Supreme Court holds: NGT has the Power to Issue General Directions for Guidance to Prevent Injury to Environment

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The powers and jurisdiction exercised by the National Green Tribunal have been questioned at multiple instances.However, recently the Supreme Court held that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has the power to provide general directions for future guidance in some relevant cases to evade injury to the environment.

The decision has been delivered after the direction given by NGT on prevention of construction and developmental activities was challenged. The Aam Aadmi Lokmanch had approached High Court of Bombay presenting the issue of an accidental death of a mother and her daughter on an adjacent National Highway caused by illegal mining and subsequent destruction of hills. Post the application received by Aam Aadmi Lokmanch, the NGT directed the authorities to disallow construction or developmental works which are to occur at a distance of 100 ft. away from the lowest slope of a hill, or an incline of the hill within its territorial ambits, and hill-tops except for the Bamboo cottages.

The Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justice RF Nariman, Justice S. Ravindra Bhat, and Justice V. Ramasubramaniam has noted that Sections 15(1)(b) and 15(1)(c)of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 (hereinafter, “the Act”) give the Tribunal remedial powers on the account of restoration of the environment.

Further, the Tribunal has the power to prevent detrimental practices against the environment. The Court held that the Tribunal is an expert regulatory body with original jurisdiction under Sections 14, 15 and 17 of the Act and a quasi-judicial body with appellatejurisdiction under Section 16 of Act. The jurisdiction extends to state departments & agencies and regulatory bodies’ directions.

However, the bench observed that in the Aam Aadmi Lokmanch case the direction given by the NGT on banning such developmental activities is based on irrational grounds with no scientific logic and expert’s opinion.

This case is an important ruling of the Court as it delineates important powers of the NGT and provides substantive interpretation to the parent Act and the powers of the Tribunal thereunder.

To further read about the order, kindly click on the link below: