The article has been written by Priyanka Bajpai, student of Amity Law School, Chhattisgarh.
Indian Judicial system is really vast. Laws have been distinguished for their cause or nature of act that took place. Such as for crime, it is under CRPC, then we have TORTS. For civil we have CPC and for contractual problems we have Law of Contracts. For every different nature of matter, different law prevails. Similarly, Environment being extremely important aspect, concerns regarding it has increased by increasing degradation of environment , and laws are brought up for the same. National Green Tribunal deals with the laws of environment and works towards betterment of the environment.
What is National Green Tribunal?
NGT, National Green Tribunal, has been established on 18.10.2010, under The National Green Tribunal Act 2010. For effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources .It was a move towards environment. It includes enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to person and property or with any other matter related to environment. It is a special body equipped with all necessary expertise to handle environment disputes.
The tribunal’s jurisdiction provides speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts. The tribunal is mandated to make and dispose the application or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
NGT is proposed to be a set up of 5 places of sittings and will follow circuit procedure for making itself more accessible. New Delhi is the principal place of Sitting of the tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai shall be the other four place of regional bench sitting of the tribunal . It is guided by principal of natural justice.
Methodology of NGT
The tribunal has framed its own rules and procedures. Applications are submitted in these tribunals unlike those of civil suits or writ petition. Its tribunal’s work to identify necessary parties as required under necessary statutes mentioned in Schedule I of the NGT Act, 2010 and requires them to promptly respond by email which helps save time and cost. Notice is not issued to every party named as respondents in the application.
Tribunal entertains letter petitions which bring to light instances of substantial environment damage . A valid complaint is taken note of even in the absence of any representation from the aggrieved and response is sought by email and can be filed even without an advocate.
Directions are issued further , to submit “factual and action taken “ report are issued to identified statutory authorities or experts by the tribunal. ,as deemed appropriate , to investigate the claims of environmental damage. An executable order is passed requiring concerned authority to take steps including restricting pollutions and recovering compensation and further initiating prosecution.
The Chairperson of NGT is a retired Judge of Supreme Court. Other Judicial Members are retired Judges of High Courts . Each bench of NGT will comprise of at least one Judicial Member and one Expert member . Expert member should have a professional qualification and a minimum of 15yrs experience in the field environment/forest conservation and related subjects.
Powers of NGT
The NGT has the power to hear all the civil cases relating to the environmental issues and questions that are linked to the implementation of laws listed in Schedule I of the NGT Act, 2010. This includes following:
1. The water (Prevention and Control of Pollution )Act 1974
2. The water (Prevention and Control of Pollution ) cess Act 1977
3. The Forest (conservation) Act,1980
4. The Air(Prevention and Control of Pollution)Act, 1981
5. The Environment( Protection) Act ,1986
6. The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991
7. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
Any violations under these laws or any other decision taken by the government , can be challenged before the NGT. But, NGT has no power to hear any matter relating to the Wildlife Protection Act ,1972 and the Indian Forest act 1927 and various laws enacted by states relating to forests, tree preservations etc.
Functions of NGT
- Through its expertise in handling disputes with the environment, it deals with multi-disciplinary issues as well.
- Its jurisdiction provides speedy trials in environment related matters and reduces burden for higher courts.
- The tribunal is mandated to dispose off environment related issues within 6 months of filing the complaints .
- The NGT needs to follow all that is given under the Civil Procedure Code but can regulate the procedure by itself and applies principle of natural justice.
- Its function is to apply principles such as sustainable development at the time of awarding compensation or giving orders and also the principle of “polluters pay”.
- All the proceedings before the National Green Tribunal shall be accorded to the proceedings within the sections of the IPC.
- It can be civil court to settle the matters.
National Green Tribunal is made for the sole purpose of prevention of the environment and making correct decisions from a legal background. With the increased pollution of environment and deliberated degradation of forest and wild life, the need for a platform like NGT is clear . This tribunal helps get speedy justice for the environment and the promotes the need for safety of our natural resources and living. The National Tribunal Act,2010 has been a step forward for the prevention of our environment.