National Green Tribunal (NGT)

National Green Tribunal:
  • The NGT was established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010, passed by the Central Government.
  • The stated objective of the Central Government was to provide a specialized forum for effective and speedy disposal of cases pertaining to environment protection, conservation of forests and for seeking compensation for damages caused to people or property due to violation of environmental laws or conditions specified while granting permissions.
  • It draws inspiration from Article 21 of Constitution of India, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.
  • The Principal Bench of the NGT has been established in the National Capital – New Delhi, with regional benches in :
    • Pune (Western Zone Bench),
    • Bhopal (Central Zone Bench),
    • Chennai (Southern Bench) and
    • Kolkata (Eastern Bench).
  • Each Bench has a specified geographical jurisdiction covering several States in a region. There is also a mechanism for circuit benches.
  • The Chairperson of the NGT is a retired Judge of the Supreme Court, Head Quartered in Delhi. Other Judicial members are retired Judges of High Courts.
  • Each bench of the NGT will comprise of at least one Judicial Member and one Expert Member.
  • Expert members should have a professional qualification and a minimum of 15 years’ experience in the field of environment/forest conservation and related subjects.
Legal jurisdiction of NGT:
The NGT has the power to hear all civil cases relating to environmental issues and questions that are linked to the implementation of laws listed in Schedule I of the NGT Act. These include the following:
1. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;
2. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977; (yes, cess act)
3. The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
4. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
5. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; (aka EPA)
6. The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991; (good option to confuse)
7. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
NOTE: The NGT has not been vested with powers to hear any matter relating to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and various laws enacted by States relating to forests, tree preservation etc. Therefore, specific and substantial issues related to these laws cannot be raised before the NGT.
Principles of Justice adopted by NGT:
  • The NGT is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
  • NGT is also not bound by the rules of evidence as enshrined in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. Thus, it will be relatively easier for conservation groups to present facts and issues before the NGT, including pointing out technical flaws in a project, or proposing alternatives that could minimize environmental damage but which have not been considered.
  • While passing Orders/decisions/awards, the NGT will apply the principles of sustainable development, the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principles.
  • It is mandated to make an endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing.
Review and Appeal:
Orders can be appealed to the Supreme Court within 90 days.

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