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NATIONAL GREEN TRIBUNAL

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NATIONAL GREEN TRIBUNAL
By: Mr.M. GOVINDARAJAN
March 8, 2019
  • Contents

Introduction

The National Green Tribunal (‘Tribunal’ for short) 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 including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues. The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.   The Tribunal's dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts. The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavor for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same. Initially, the Tribunal is proposed to be set up at five 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 sitting of the Tribunal.

Composition of the Tribunal

The Tribunal shall consist of-

  • A full time Chairperson;
  • Not less than 10 but subject to maximum of 20 full time Judicial Members as the Central Government may, from time to time notify;
  • Not less than 10 but subject to maximum of 20 full time Expert members, as the Central Government may, from time to time notifies.

Tribunal to settle disputes

  • The Tribunal shall have jurisdiction over all civil cases where a substantial question relating to environment (including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment) is involved and such question arises out of the implements of the enactments as detailed below-
    • 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 shall hear the disputes arising from the questions referred to above and settle such disputes and pass order thereon.
  • No application for adjudication of dispute shall be entertained by the Tribunal unless it is made within a period of 6 months from the date on which the cause of action arose for such dispute first arose.
  • The Tribunal, if it is satisfied that the applicant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the application within the said period, allow it to be filed within a further period not exceeding 60 days.

Relief, compensation and restitution

  • The Tribunal may, by an order, provide-
    • relief and compensation to the victims of pollution and other environmental damage arising under the enactments, including accident occurring while handling any hazardous substance;
    • for restitution of property damages;
    • for restitution of environment for such area or areas

as the Tribunal may think fit.

  • The relief, compensation and restitution shall be in addition to the relief paid or payable under the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1961.
  • The limitation period is 5 years from the date on which the cause for such compensation or relief first arose.
  • The Tribunal, if it is satisfied that the applicant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the application within the said period, allow it to be filed within a further period not exceeding 60 days.
  • The Tribunal may, having regard to the damage to public health, property and environment, divide the compensation or relief payable under separate heads.
  • Every claimant shall intimate the Tribunal about the application filed to, the compensation or relief received from any other court or authority.

Appellate jurisdiction of the Tribunal

The Tribunal shall have appellate jurisdiction to decide the appeal filed by any aggrieved person against an order or decision under-

  • Section 28 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;
  • Section 29 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;
  • Section 33A of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;
  • Section 13 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977;
  • Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
  • Section 31 of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
  • Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
  • Granting environmental clearance in the area in which any industry, operations or process or class of industries, operations and processes shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
  • Refusing to grant environmental clearance of carrying out any activity or operation or process under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
  • By the National Biodiversity Authority or a State Biodiversity Board under the provisions of Biological Diversity Act, 2002

The appeal shall be filed within a period of 30 days from the date on which the order or decision or direction or determination is communicated to him.  The Tribunal may, if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal within the said period, allow it to be filed within a further period not exceeding 60 days.

Liability to pay relief or compensation in certain cases

  • Where death of, or injury to, any person (other than a workman) or damage to any property or environment has resulted from an accident or the adverse impact of an activity or operation or process, under any enactment, the person responsible shall be liable to pay such relief or compensation for such death, injury or damage.
  • If the death or injury or damage caused by an accident or the adverse impact of an activity or operation or process under any enactment cannot be attributed to any single activity or operation or process but it is the combined or resultant effect of several such activities, operations and processes, the Tribunal may, apportion the liability for relief or compensation amongst those responsible for such activities, operations and processes on an equitable basis.
  • The Tribunal shall, in case of an accident, apply the principle of no fault.

Application or appeal to Tribunal

  • An application or appeal to the Tribunal shall be filed in Form I.
  • The same may be filed in person or by an agent or by a duly authorized legal practitioner to the Registrar or by registered post with acknowledgement due to the Registrar.
  • If the application or appeal for relief or compensation the same shall be filed in Form II.
  • The application or appeal shall be filed in triplicate in the following two compilations-
    • Application or appeal along with the impugned order, if any;
    • All other documents and annexure referred to in the application or appeal in a paper book form.
  • An application for grant of relief or compensation or settlement of disputes may be made to the Tribunal by-
    • the person, who has sustained injury; or
    • the owner of the property to which the damage has been caused; or
    • where death has resulted from the environmental damage, by all or any of the legal representatives of the deceased; or
    • any agent duly authorized by such person or owner of such property or all or any of the legal representatives of the deceased; or
    • any person aggrieved, including any representative body or organization; or
    • the Central Government or a State Government or a Union Territory Administration or the Central Pollution Control Board of a State Pollution Control Board or a Pollution Control Committee or a local authority, or any environmental authority constituted or established under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • Where the respondent is more than one, as many extra copies of application or appeal, in paper book form as there are respondents together with unused file size envelope bearing the full address of each respondent shall be furnished by the applicant or appellant.

Rectification of defects

  • If on scrutiny, any application or pleadings filed in the Tribunal is found to be defective, the Registrar shall notify in Form V on the Notice Board of the Tribunal fixing time to rectify the defects.
  • The Registrar may extend the time limit to rectify the mistakes but the total time shall not exceed 30 days.
  • If the party contests the objections of the Registrar and if the Registrar does not satisfy the Registrar shall put the case before the Tribunal for its orders.
  • If the party rectifies the defects and resubmit the same to the Registrar, the Registrar shall number the same.

Fee

  • For claim of compensation- the fee is @ 1% of the compensation claimed subject to the minimum of ₹ 1000/-;
  • No fee is payable by a person for claim compensation if he is below poverty line;
  • Where no compensation is claimed the fee is ₹ 1000/-.

Procedure

  • The application or appeal shall be dealt with by the Tribunal as expeditiously as possible and try to dispose within 6 months from the date of filing after providing the parties concerned a reasonable opportunity of being heard.
  • The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down by CPC but shall be guided by the principles of Natural Justice.
  • The Tribunal shall not be bound by the rules of evidence contained in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
  • The Tribunal, if there is a default by the applicant or appellant may decide the case ex parte.
  • The appellant may file an application within 30 days from the date of ex-parte order indicating that he was prevented from attend the hearing.If the Tribunal satisfies the ex-parte order may be restored.
  • The Tribunal shall, while passing any order or decision or award, apply the principles of sustainable development, the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle.
  • The decision of the Tribunal by majority of the Members shall be binding.
  • While disposing of an application or appeal, the Tribunal shall have power to make such order as to costs, as it may consider necessary.
  • The award or order or decision of the Tribunal shall be executable by the Tribunal as a decree of a civil court, and for this purpose, the Tribunal shall have all the powers of a civil court.
  • The order of the Tribunal for relief, compensation etc., is to be sent to the authority and the District Collector.
  • The Authority shall transfer the said amount to the District Collector within 30 days from the date of deposit in the Environment Relief Fund.
  • The District Collector shall arrange to disburse the amount to the eligible persons within 30 days from the date of receipt of the amount.

Appeal

Any person aggrieved by any award, decision or order of the Tribunal, may file appeal to the Supreme Court within 90 days from the date of communication of the award, decision or order of the Tribunal to him on any one of the grounds specified in section 100 of CPC.  The Supreme Court may entertain any appeal after the expiry of 90 days if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented from filing the appeal.

Application for review

  • The application for review shall be filed within 30 days from the date of order which is sought to be reviewed.
  • Where an application for review has been disposed any further application for review shall not be entertained.

Penalty

Whoever fails to comply with any order or award or decision of the Tribunal, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years or with fine which may extend to ₹ 10 crores or with both.   In case the failure or contravention continues, the concerned person shall be punishable with additional fine which extend to ₹ 25000/- for every day during which such failure or contravention continues after conviction for the first such failure or contravention.

In case a company fails to comply with any order or award or a decision of the Tribunal, such company shall be punishable with fine which may extend to ₹ 25 crores and in case the failure or contravention continues, with additional fine which may extend to ₹ 1 lakh for every day during such failure or contravention continues after conviction for the first such failure or contravention.

 

By: Mr.M. GOVINDARAJAN - March 8, 2019

 

 

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