This article is written by Shreya, a third-year student from the Army Institute of Law, Mohali. She has discussed the main provisions of the act and aspects related to jurisdiction, procedure, compensation and penalty as per the act.
The specific goal of UN 2030 is with the agenda for the Sustainable Development of Environment can be achieved by only setting up the essential courts and tribunal for its progress Almost 1200 environmental courts, and tribunals are working in various countries and more courts are being planned to be established for further improvement.
It has been analysed that if environmental cases are to be concerned, then it should be according to scientific analysis, which is only possible with the help of experts and judicial officers. If this is followed, then the judicial system can become more efficient for resolving the environment matters.
National Green Tribunal was established in 2010 which was under the National green tribunal act. This act is related to the disposal of civil cases in relation to environmental protection and also for the conservation of natural resources. There is an inclusion of legal rights and which are related to the environment. The National Green Tribunal Act,2010 is enacted under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, and it explains the right to live in a clean and healthy environment.
Statement of Objects and Reasons for the enactment of the Act
- In recent years, a lot of pressure has been imposed on the natural sources of the environment due to the expansion of the industries, transportation and increasing urbanisation and there are pending cases related to the environment in other courts. So, this reason includes setting up of National Green Tribunal under the Act.
- India being a member of the United Nations Conference on Human Environment called upon to provide a very effective judicial and administrative proceedings and to redress the liabilities regarding National laws for the victims in relation to environmental pollution and damage.
- The main object is the right to life, and a healthy environment which is given under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution has been constructed in the matter of judicial proceedings.
- The National Green Tribunal is enacted for the strict liability which can be imposed after one indulges in environmental damages or accidents related to hazardous substances.
- There is setting up of National Green Tribunal Under this Act for better relief and compensation with regards to the damages to persons, property and the environment.
National Green Tribunal Bill, 2009
As the National Green Tribunal was set up with legal rights to the environment for the effective disposal of the cases. Accordingly, it has been decided for the introduction of National Green Tribunal Bill, 2009 which lays down the following procedure:
- For the establishment of the national green tribunal, the composition must include a chairperson, judicial experts and environmental experts according to the Central Government notification.
- The person should be the judge of the supreme court or the Chief Justice of a high court to be appointed as the chairperson of the tribunal.
- The person who has been qualified as a judge of the high court shall be given eligibility to be a judicial member of the tribunal.
- In the appointment of Expert member, one needs to be an expert either in the physical sciences, life sciences or one who has dealt with the environmental matters.
Composition of the tribunal
Under section 4 of the act, the tribunal shall consist of the following:
- An eligible chairperson as per defined in the National Green Tribunal Bill, 2009 which should be a full-time Chairperson
- Ten to Twelve full-time judicial members or as per the Central government notification
- The chairperson has the power of calling the specialised person who has a particular experience to the tribunal for assistance.
- The central government can notify about the territorial jurisdiction falling under a particular place of sitting.
- The central government with the consultation of Chairperson, can make rules and regulations in relation to the Tribunal.
Qualifications of the members
- The chairperson should be qualified as a judge of the supreme court or the chief justice of the high court.
- The member of the tribunal should have a qualification in relation to the judge of high court as a judicial expert.
- As the non-judicial expert, one should have the degree of masters in science or doctorate degree or with a masters degree in engineering.
Jurisdiction of the Tribunal
Under section 14 of the act, the tribunal shall have jurisdiction to the following:
- The tribunal has jurisdiction over the civil cases which are in consonance of the matters related to the environment.
- The tribunal shall involve the disputes related to the above-written matter.
- The application should only be made in the time span of six months from the commencement of cause of the case.
Bar of jurisdiction
According to the provisions given under section 29 of the act, the following is the bar of jurisdiction:
- No civil court is determined to entertain any case which is empowered to determine as an appeal.
- The civil courts are also barred to entertain any question which is related to the compensation or relief is given by the Tribunal.
- No civil court is given permission to grant an injunction on a particular case before the tribunal which is in respect to the settlement of disputes in case of compensation or restitution of property.
Who can file the application?
The act provides relief to any party who has rendered the status of victim in relation to the causes of environmental pollution and dealing with other environmental problems or hazardous status.
Following can file the application before the court:
- Any person who has sustained the injury under this act.
- Any legal representative of the deceased in which the cause of death is related to the environment.
- Any agent of the property of aggrieved but deceased.
- Any person aggrieved including the representative body or an organisation.
Procedure for filing an application or appeal
The official language of National green tribunal is English and it is very simple to file an application seeking environmental damages.
For every application where there is no compensation involved, one needs to fill the application and provide with the fee of Rs.1000 and if the compensation is to be rendered, then one has to give 1% of the compensation received and it should be minimum to Rs. 1000.
A claim for compensation can be made for the following:
- Relief or compensation was given to the victims of pollution and damage to the environment with the hazardous substance.
- It also includes the restitution of the property which is damaged
- Restitution of the environment for the areas which are determined by the National Green Tribunal.
- No application can be entertained until and unless it is made within the time span of five years from the date of arousal of causes of rendering the compensation.
- Any person who is aggrieved by the decisions or award of the court, he can appeal to the Supreme Court under section 22 of the act.
Limitations to the compensation
Under section 24 of the act, various limitations to the compensation have been mentioned which are as follows:
- Application for the relief caused should be made within the time span of five years.
- Compensation heads which are payable under schedule II are as follows.
- Death or temporary disability of a person
- Inclusion of loss of wages and medical expenses
- When it has caused damage to private property or personal property.
- Inclusion of the expenses which are incurred by the government for providing relief to the affected party.
- Compensation that is required for the environmental restoration of the quality.
- Loss of business or employment.
- Claims emerging out of activities dealing with hazardous substances.
Powers of the tribunal
Under section 19 of the act, the Tribunal shall have the power that would be required to regulate its own procedure.
The powers of the tribunal are as follows:
- Power to relief by issuing the compensation to the aggrieved person after analysing the matter in a scientific manner with a properly researched report.
- Issuance of the commission for witnessing the documents
- Reviewing the decision of a particular case
- It has a power of dismissing the application if it is considered to have defaulted or its decided to be ex parte.
- Granting the interim orders are considered as a power to the tribunal and it can be done after hearing both the parties.
- Power to give an order regarding the ceasement of a person from further committing or violating the enactments specified in the Schedule I.
- Under section 20, the tribunal has the power to pass any order or award in relation to the substantial development.
- Under section 21 of the act, decisions which are taken by the majority of the members in the tribunal are considered as binding on the aggrieved parties.
Penalty for failure to comply with the awards or decisions of a tribunal
Under section 26 of the act, In the matter of failure to comply with the decision given by the tribunal, the National green tribunal follows a method of deterrent punishment.
The provisions laid down for the punishment are as follows:
- Imprisonment extended up to three years
- Fine which may extend up to ten crore rupees
- Or with both imprisonment and the fine
- In case if the contravention is still followed every day, the amount of twenty-five thousand rupees will be charged every day.
In case if a company fails to comply
Such company shall be punishable in the following manner.
- Fine which may extend to twenty-five crores.
- In case if the contravention or failure continues, additional fine with one lakh of fine may extend.
Case laws pertaining to various issues
This case was put forth by Braj foundation in which it was given that the government should make the memorandum of understanding for the forestation of Vrindavan. It was given by the government that the advertisement which was issued was just an invitation to treat but it cannot be regarded as a contract. But the tribunal gave guidelines to the government that it is the duty of it to promote afforestation. One of the significant aim was to create a 100-meter long belt on both the sides of braj parikrama.
In this case, the petitioners challenge the environment clearance, which was ordered for installing the coal-fired power plant. In the end, it was observed that if that environmental clearance is not resulting in excess environmental degradation then the project involved can be continued. But further, the tribunal gave the award regarding the illegality of the environment clearance due to consequences.
The court observed the problem of a growing population in Delhi and ordered to set up an action plan and directed that the vehicles which are 10 years old are prohibited and the burning plastic is prohibited.
For the implementation of various tracks were constructed for cycles and forces were set up to keep a check up vehicles and fine of Rs. 1000 was kept on cars parked on metallic sand tracks and it was offered that multi-level parking is constructed in appropriate areas.
It is justifiable that National green tribunal is of great importance when it comes to cases in relation to board environmental problems. It is a tool for sharing and enhancing more substantial development of the environment. The great need to know about conflict includes when the matters related to water, air, land etc. has emerged on which various judgements are to be given.
But it is an advantage that due to national green tribunals, lawyers are encouraged to specialize in environmental law and the tribunal is therefore considered as an important aspect to provide justice in the matters related to the environment. A time is awaited when our environment will be given most importance through the medium of law pertaining to it.
- Dr. Paramjit S Jaswal , Environmental law