The National Green Tribunal came into existence on October 18, 2010, by an Act passed by the Central Government, i.e. the National Green Tribunal Act 2010. The stated goal of the Central Government was to create a specialized forum for the effective and expeditious resolution of cases involving environmental protection, forest conservation, and compensation for damages to people or property caused by infractions of environmental laws or criteria stipulated when obtaining permits.
The NGT’s Principal Bench was established in New Delhi following the law’s implementation, with regional benches in Pune (Western Zone Bench), Bhopal (Central Zone Bench), Chennai (Southern Bench), and Kolkata (Southern Bench) (Eastern Bench). Each Bench has a geographical jurisdiction that spans many states in a certain region. There is also a circuit bench mechanism. For example, the Southern Zone bench in Chennai can choose to arrange sittings in other locations such as Bangalore or Hyderabad.
The NGT is chaired by a retired Supreme Court judge with headquarters in Delhi. Retired High Court Judges make up the remaining judicial members. Each bench of the NGT will contain at least one Judicial Member and one Expert Member. Expert members should have at least 15 years of experience in the domains of environment, forest conservation, and related themes, as well as a professional qualification.
The Tribunal is committed to resolving matters involving the forest, environment, biodiversity, air, and water in a timely and effective manner. It is a specialized organization with the knowledge and experience to resolve environmental issues spanning a variety of professions. Since July 4, 2011, the National Green Tribunal has been in existence. New Delhi is home to the Principal Bench, with circuit benches in Chennai, Bhopal, Pune, and Kolkata serving the rest of the country. The main bench, as well as the regional benches, are currently in use. Since its establishment in October 2010, the Tribunal has successfully carried out its role as a ‘fast-track Court’ for the effective and timely resolution of environmental protection and conservation issues.
Why did the need of NGT come into existence?
After an extensive discussion of the views of jurists from various countries, the Supreme Court of India in A.P. Pollution Control Board vs. M.V. Nayudu, 1999(2) SCC 718, referred to the need for establishing Environmental Courts that would benefit from expert advice from environmental scientists/technically qualified persons as part of the judicial process.
The Supreme Court noted the major discrepancies in the formation of appellate courts in its later follow-up judgment in A.P. Pollution Control Board vs. M.V. Nayudu, 2001(2) SCC 62. According to the Supreme Court, the Law Commission could look into the differences in these quasi-judicial bodies’ constitutions and recommend a new framework to maintain consistency. in the structure of the quasi-judicial bodies that supervise orders passed by administrative or public authorities, including orders of the Government.
The Law Commission of India (186th Report 2003) proposed that environmental courts be established in India. This suggestion was based on an assessment of technical and scientific concerns brought before the courts, as well as the insufficiency of judicial understanding of scientific and technical elements of environmental challenges.
Suo Motu Applications:
The NGT takes suo motu appeals in various matters posing significant environmental concerns in the interest of environmental conservation and public health. The NGT’s action of suo motu cognizance was challenged in the Madras High Court, which disagreed with the tribunal’s argument, namely that the tribunal is empowered to develop its own procedure and can take suo motu cognizance of an environmental issue.
The NGT offers relief and compensation to victims of pollution and other environmental harm, as well as restoration of damaged property and restitution of the environment, under the category of environmental compensation. In a number of decisions, the NGT has ruled that environmental compensation be provided on the basis of the ‘polluter pays principle.’ According to the judgement dated 23-08-2016 in the case of Samir Mehta vs. Union of India and Others, the NGT directed that an environmental compensation be paid by the respondent of concern for the damage caused to the ecosystem, loss to ecology, and livelihood in accordance with the ‘Polluter Pays Principle.
The manner in which the concerns were addressed and the justice delivered by the NGT demonstrates that the court exists to protect the right of the ordinary man to live in a pollution-free environment, as stated in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. This has emphasized the significance of the notion of public trust, which requires the government to behave as a trustee of natural resources for the benefit of all people. According to the findings of the study, the NGT is seen as ‘Responsive to Environmental Problems,’ which is one of the qualities of any effective environmental court.
FAQs about the NGT:
Who is eligible to file cases with the Tribunal, and what types of cases are heard?
The Tribunal can be approached by anybody seeking redress and compensation for environmental damage caused by subjects mentioned in Schedule I of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010.
Schedule I contains the following statutes:
- The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;
- The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977;
- The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
- The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
- The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
- The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991;
- The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
The Tribunal exercises jurisdiction over all civil matters involving a significant environmental concern and the question. Furthermore, any individual who is dissatisfied with an order/direction issued by any of the Appellate Authorities listed above may file a complaint with the National Green Tribunal.
What’s the distinction between a Court and a Tribunal?
According to the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, every Court may be a tribunal, but every tribunal must not be a court. A High Court, for example, where a PIL would be filed, may have broad powers covering all passed laws (including the power of contempt), but the NGT has only been entrusted with powers under the seven environmental statutes.
Is it necessary for me to hire a NGT Lawyer in order to approach the Tribunal?
Even though those who have been wronged may approach the Tribunal in person by submitting an application in the appropriate manner, it is always prudent to consult and engage with NGT lawyers in Chandigarh in environmental matters to help and guide you in the process.
Is the Court’s ruling legally binding?
Yes, the Tribunal’s rulings are legally binding. The Tribunal’s orders are enforceable since the Tribunal has the same powers as a civil court under the 1908 Code of Civil Procedure.
Is the Tribunal’s ruling final?
The Tribunal has the authority to examine its own judgements. If this does not work, the judgement can be appealed to the Supreme Court within ninety days.
Is there a prohibition on civil courts hearing matters under the seven listed statutes in Schedule I of the NGT Act?
Yes. Since the enactment of the NGT Act, civil courts have been barred from hearing cases involving environmental concerns under the seven statutes that the NGT is tasked with enforcing.
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