The Union Environment Ministry has allowed NGT Chairperson to “constitute a single-member bench” in “exceptional circumstances”. It has amended National Green Tribunal (Practices and Procedure) Rules, 2011 and issued notification. However, it has not defined “exceptional circumstances”.
This move will address festering problem of vacancies in NGT. According to earlier rules, NGT bench consisted of “two or more members” with at least one judicial member and another expert. The balance of judicial and independent experts was necessary to ensure that technical aspects of disputes were adequately addressed.
National Green Tribunal (NGT)
The NGT was established in 2010 under National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
It specialises in adjudicating on matters relating to environment, forests and harm to people or property due to neglect of environmental obligations of infrastructure projects.
It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues. It also includes enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith.
It adjudicates matters relating to Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991; Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
The NGT is guided by principles of natural justice and not bound by procedure laid down under Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. It is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing. New Delhi is Principal Place of Sitting NGT. Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are other regional sitting of Tribunal.