Case in Supreme Court of India:-Union of India Vs. Vimal Bhai
Advocates Sanjay Parikh, Ritwick Dutta, Rahul Choudhary, Anitha Shenoy are appearing before the Supreme Court.
Every day projects are being granted environment clearances. But there is no Authority or Tribunal where these environment clearances can be challenged. Earlier it was the National Environment Appellate Authority, which was not functioning properly and was without a full bench, which is required according to the prescribed manual. There was only one member, whose work was to dismiss all the appeals filed in the NEAA. We filed a case in the High Court; we won the case with the fine of Rs. 20,000 on Ministry of Environment and Forest. Instead of setting up the NEAA in a proper form, the MoEF challanged the Delhi High Court order in the Supreme Court of India. The case is still pending.
On 6-5-2011 the Case related to constitution of Green Tribunal, Union of India Vs. Vimal Bhai was listed before Supreme Court. On the previous hearing the Assistant Solicitor Gernal Ms. Indira Jaisingh has informed the Court that the selections are likely to be approved by the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet at an early date and once that is done, the Benched of the Green Tribunal will become functional.
Today ASG informed that four expert and three judicial members have been appointed. And also that Van Vigyan Bhawan will be the place from where Green Tribunal will operate.It was informed that the NGT will be set up at the following places: Delhi, Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai. However the appointment of Registrar is still not done.
The Supreme Court has asked the Ministry to file affidavit stating what steps has already taken and what all are required to be done for making the Green Tribunal functional.
The case is now listed for hearing on the 12th of May for further direction.
History of the case:-
The case related to constitution of NGT, Union of India vs Vimal Bhai was listed on 28.03.2011 before Justice G.N. Singhvi and Justice A.K.Ganguli of Supreme Court. On 6th of December the Assistance Solicitor General (ASG) said before the court that difficulty, in functioning of National Green Tribunal can be resolved by Central Government on an ad hoc basis by exercising power under sub-section (1) of section 37 of the NGT Act.
The Supreme Court by the Order dt. 16.12.2010 passed an order asking the Ministry of Environment and Forest to make the Tribunal functional within a period of 4 weeks. Thereafter, rather than implementing the order of the Supreme Court the Ministry of Environment and Forest filed application seeking more time to constitute the Tribunal.
When the case was listed on 28.03.2011 the ministry informed the court that Madras High Court has stayed the rules of the appointment so the Tribunal is not constituted. The Ministry will be now filing transfer petition so that the cases pending before other High Court related to National Green Tribunal can be heard only by Supreme Court. During the course of the hearing the Court asked the ASG why there are different service conditions for the different Tribunals and Commissions.
Now this case will come again after three weeks. When Mr. Sanjay Parikh, Lawyer for Petitioner raised the issue of non availability of any forum against the grant of environment clearance, the Court asked to wait for three weeks.
For one who is new to this case, following is the brief background of the case:
The National Environment Appellate Authority was set up under the NEAA Act, 1997 for redressal of grievances related to grant of environmental clearances. NEAA was functioning without Chairperson for almost ten years., and post of technical members were filled with retired IAS and IFS officers. High Court of Delhi passed order on 29.09.2005 in WP No. 17682/2005 directing reconstitution of NEAA in 45 days. When this order was not implemented by the Ministry of Environment than an application was filed for compliance of the order. Than another order was passed on 11.02.2009 on the application and 12 weeks time was granted to appoint chair person and vice chairperson.
The MoEF rather than appointing the Chairperson and vice chairperson, filedt SLP No. 12065 of 2009 before Supreme Court. Ministry informed the Court during the course of hearing that National Green Tribunal Act was passed in parliament and got assent of President on 2nd June 2010 and was published on same day. Section 38 (3) of the National Green Tribunal Act provides that “ The National Environment Appellate Authority established under sub section (1) of section 3 of the National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997, shall, on the establishment of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, stand dissolved.”
When only chairperson of the Tribunal was appointed MoEF came out with notification dated 18.10.2010 that “In exercise of powers conferred by section 3 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, the Central Government hereby establishes “The National Green Tribunal” to exercise the jurisdiction; powers and authority conferred on it by or under this Act”. the effect of this notification is that the NEAA stand dissolved with effect from 18.10.2010 but at the same time Green Tribunal is not in place to hear the matter and exercise its jurisdiction.