Does NGT have the competence to take cognizance of Suo Motu without request? The Supreme Court to consider

The Supreme Court will consider on August 25 whether the National Green Court (NGT) has jurisdiction under the provisions of the NGT Act of 2010 to initiate suo motu proceedings. Judges AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna’s bench heard a series of SLPs and appeals before them. The question to be asked was whether the NGT can exercise suo …

The Supreme Court will consider on August 25 whether the National Green Court (NGT) has jurisdiction under the provisions of the NGT Act of 2010 to initiate suo motu proceedings.

The bench of Judges AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna heard a series of speech therapists and calls in front of her. The question to be asked was whether the NGT can exercise its suo motu jurisdiction without a formal request, like a Constitutional Court.

Tuesday, Senior Lawyer ANS Nadkarni told the bench that the NGT needed a claimant or claimant before it to be able to see a problem. It cannot, like a constitutional court, initiate proceedings on its own. It was his case that the NGT law requires the existence of a “lis” between two parties, a dispute where one party asks for something and the other denies; that NGT’s jurisdiction under the Act does not have the wording of constitutional jurisdiction under Articles 32 or 226.

“Your Lordships have ruled that a tribunal is an authority which decides on a ‘lis’ between the parties. Your Lordships have ruled the same for the administrative tribunal and others. be a civil court, ”he insisted.

He relied on the 2017 Supreme Court ruling in The case of Rajendra Singh Bhandari where it has been observed that,

“Reading all of these provisions (of the NGT Law) together, it is clear to us that there must be a substantive environmental issue and that issue must arise in litigation – it should not be. an academic question. There must also be a claimant raising this dispute, which dispute is likely to be resolved by the NGT by granting relief which could be in the nature of compensation or restitution of damaged property or restitution. the environment and any other ancillary or ancillary repair related thereto “

To this, Judge Khanwilkar pointed out that the above is’not a declaration of law or a binding precedent ‘ and that he ‘must have been a passing remark ‘. The judge indicated that the jurisdiction of the NGT, as defined in article 14 of the law, does not say that it is only on the filing of an original application that the court can take cognizance of a question. Justice Khanwilkar indicated that subsection 14 (1) states that the Tribunal has jurisdiction over all civil matters where an important environmental issue (including the enforcement of any legal rights relating to the environment), is involved.

This question arises from the implementation of the provisions set out in Annex I.

“It says ‘implementation of the laws specified in Annex I’. The Tribunal can of course only exercise the powers conferred on it by the Statute and which relate to the laws of the Annex. But to say that it did not suo motu power, that is a very broad statement. Which judgment says NGT cannot look at environmental issues and issues? Suo motu may also be possible, “Judge Khanwilkar said.

Judge Khanwilkar added that,

“The purpose and intention of the NGT Act must also be kept in mind. The other tribunal you mentioned concerns disputes between government and officials and officials between them. Here the court deals with the common man. who is the victim of pollution. Why can’t the NGT take responsibility and help the victims? There may be various reasons why an OS may not be deposited … “

Judge Khanna also added that being able to say that the NGT does not have suo motu jurisdiction would be tantamount to restricting the powers of the Tribunal which has been given an important and broad role. The judge is of the opinion that to this end, the nature and functions of the Tribunal, the powers conferred on it, and its missions must be analyzed.

Judge Khanna indicated that article 14, paragraph 1, confers jurisdiction on the NGT, but does not speak of a claimant.

“It is only the later provisions that say that there can be an applicant. But is there anything that suggests that without an applicant the jurisdiction of the tribunal cannot be exercised?” observed. The judge pointed to Article 15 (1) (a) of the Law which says that the Tribunal may grant redress, compensation and restitution to victims of pollution and other environmental damage. “It says ‘pollution victims’ and not ‘petitioner’,” said Judge Khanna.

The judiciary then asked the parties to file written submissions on the legislative provisions and the authorities on which they intend to rely. “Also give us information on the objects and reasons of the law”said Judge Khanwilkar. The bench specified that the written note should not exceed 5 pages, although judgments can be annexed to it. The judiciary then postponed the case to August 25 for hearing on the limited aspect of the suo motu jurisdiction of the NGT.

The SLP leader registered before the magistracy on Tuesday finds its genesis in the 2018 ordinance of the NGT where its main magistracy, reading an article entitled ‘Garbage Gangs of Deonar: The Kingpins and Their Multi-Crore Trade’, had taken cognizance of the same and had dealt with the same as a request under Article 14 of the NGT Law of 2010.

The article states that there is illegal disposal of waste from garbage dump areas at Deonar in Mumbai. Unregulated and unauthorized activities are carried out for profit, resulting in massive fires, damaging the environment, health and life of the inhabitants. This also leads to a violation of the Law on Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution), 1981, Law on Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) , 1974, solid waste management rules, 2016 and hazardous waste management rules, 2016. These issues require consideration., Had recorded the NGT.

A joint inspection was ordered by the Central Pollution Control Commission (CPCB) and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), as well as the regional collector and a representative of the Municipal Corporation Greater, Mumbai. Instructions were also issued to prepare an action plan for the remediation of legacy waste and a report on actions taken.

Noting that the joint inspection report shows that there has been a huge amount of legacy waste and fire accidents causing huge air pollution which was an obvious failure of the Municipal Corporation Greater Mumbai. The damage to public health was evident, and for the recognized violation of law and damage to the environment, compensation of Rs. 5 crore was to be paid by the Municipal Corporation Greater Mumbai by way of filing with the CPCB, in a period of one month for the restitution of the environment. The amount could be recovered from polluters or misplaced agents.

In addition, given the previous non-compliance with the schedule to take follow-up corrective measures, the NGT had in December 2018 deemed it necessary for the protection of the environment and the rule of law that the Municipal Corporation be terminated in ordering the Municipal Corporation, Greater Mumbai to provide a performance guarantee to the satisfaction of CPCB in the amount of Rs. 100 crores.

This disputed order of the NGT was stayed by the Supreme Court in 2019.

Along with the lead case, certain motions filed against the National Green Tribunal increasing the distance limit of quarries from residential units from 200 meters to 50 meters. The NGT had passed the ordinance acting on a representation.

Senior lawyers Krishnan Venugopal and V Giri mentioned these appeals in court. The bench agreed to review them with the main case on August 25.

Case title: CORPORATION MUNICIPALE DE GR. MUMBAI v. ANKITA SINHA (Civil Claim No. 12122/2018 and Related Matters)

Thelma J. Longworth

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