National Green Tribunal (NGT)
The National green tribunal (NGT) came into existence in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal act 2010. The NGT act provides for the establishment of the National green tribunal for the purpose of effective and quick disposal of various cases related to the protection and conservation of forests, environment and other natural resources including the enforcement of any legal right related to the environment.
The National green tribunal (NGT)
- NGT has replaced the National environment appellate authority . It has provisions for giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property.
- After the establishment of the National green tribunal, India has joined the league of countries that have a dedicated adjudicatory forum for disposing of cases related to environmental disputes.
- After the establishment of NGT in 2010, India became the third country to have a full-fledged green tribunal followed by New Zealand and Australia.
- The national green tribunal will facilitate fast-track resolutions of the cases related to environmental disputes, and help in the implementation of many sustainable development measures.
- The National green tribunal is mandated to dispose of the cases related to environmental disputes within 6 months.
Members of the National green tribunal (NGT)
- Chairperson and members: It has the provision of a full-time chairperson and at least 10 and maximum 20 full-time judicial members. It also has the provision for minimum 10 and maximum of 20 full-time expert members.
- Qualification of chairperson- the person should have been a judge of Supreme Court or the chief justice of any High Court.
- Qualification of judicial members- the judicial members should either be a judge of Supreme Court, Chief Justice of High Court or a judge of the high court.
- Qualification for expert members- the person should have a degree in the Master of Science in the physical sciences or the life sciences with a doctorate degree or should have a degree in master of engineering or the master of technology. A person having 15 years experience in the relevant field, and administrative experience of 15 years in either Central or state government can also be the member.
- After retirement, the chairman and the judicial members cannot take any job related to the matters of NGT for 2 years.
- The chairperson of the National green tribunal is appointed by the union government after consulting with the Chief Justice of India. The judicial and export members of NGT are appointed on the recommendations of a selection committee.
- The members including the chairperson can hold the office for 5 years. Maximum age limit for the chairman is 70 years if he has been the judge of Supreme Court, while the maximum age is 67 years, for the judge of the high court.
- The Chairperson can be removed by the union government after enquiry made by the judge of Supreme Court. The chairperson or the judicial members have to be informed about the charges against them and should be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in defence of those charges.
Jurisdiction of the National green tribunal (NGT)
The jurisdiction of NGT extends over all the civil cases where there is a substantial question of environment, and such questions arising out of the implementation of enactments under schedule 1 of NGT act 2010. The schedule 1 of NGT includes the following acts.
- 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.
Principles adopted by NGT
- The National green tribunal is guided by the principles of natural justice and is not bound by the procedure laid down by the code of civil procedure 1908. It is also not bound by the rules under the Indian Evidence Act 1872.
- As per the section 20 of NGT act, while passing any decision or award, the tribunal applies the principles of sustainable development, the precautionary principle along with the polluter pays principle.
Who can apply a case to the NGT?
- The person who has sustained an injury. The owner of the property who has suffered any damage. Any representative authorised by such person or by the owner of the property.
- In cases in which the environmental problems have resulted in death, the legal representatives of the deceased can apply to the tribunal.
- The state government, union government, state pollution board, Environmental authorities etc can also apply before the tribunal.
- Any party who has suffered any damage has to apply before the court within 6 months of the date of cause of action. This can further be extended to 60 days if there is sufficient cause before the court.
- Any person can appeal to the supreme court if the concerned person is not satisfied with the judgement of NGT within 6 months.
Important orders of the National green tribunal (NGT)
- In 2017, the NGT banned all the diesel vehicles over 10 years old in Delhi national capital region.
- The National green tribunal had put a fine on the Art of Living Foundation as compensation for damage caused during World cultural festival on the floodplains of river Yamuna.
- The National green tribunal bench has imposed a no construction zone of 75 M around the lakes and Stormwater drains in Bengaluru.
- The Kochi bench of National green tribunal banned the diesel vehicles more than 10 years old in 6 cities of Kerala.
Critical issues related to the National green tribunal (NGT)
- The NGT act has limited jurisdiction to substantial question of the environment where the damage to public health is broadly measurable or where it relates to point source of pollution . This leads to a subjective assessment of environmental damage, which may not be a good practice.
- The qualifications for technical members of the National green tribunal are more favourable for bureaucrats. The act allows participation of Science, Technology and administrative experience but it does not ensure the participation of ecologist, sociologist, environmentalist, NGOs etc.
- The National green tribunal act does not provide the NGT jurisdiction over all the laws related to the environment; for example Wildlife Protection Act 1972, Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of forest rights Act) 2005 etc.
- The higher number of backlog cases in the NGT is also a cause of concern.
The overall work of National green tribunal (NGT) has been satisfactory. But the above-mentioned shortcomings need to be resolved to make the environmental dispute resolution under NGT accessible, speedy and effective.