TITLE- National Green Tribunal Act 2010
The Parliament of India passed the National Green Tribunal Act on June 2, 2010.
This Act provides for the establishment of a National Green Tribunal for the ‘effective and expeditious’ disposal of cases related to environmental protection, conservation of forests and other natural resources, the enforcement of any legal right relating to the environment, giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property, and connected matters. The Act contains clauses on the jurisdiction, powers and proceedings of the tribunal, and penalties for contravention.
The 19-page law was passed keeping in mind the decisions taken at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972, and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. India was a participant at both these conferences. Further, the right to a healthy environment ‘has been construed’ as part of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which mandates the right to life.
This Act empowers the central government to establish a National Green Tribunal (NGT) through a notification in The Gazette of India.
The NGT shall consist of a Chairperson, and – as the central government may notify – between 10 and 20 Judicial Members and Expert Members, each. The Chairperson may invite one or more persons to assist the tribunal in a case, if they have specialised knowledge and experience in that particular area.
A person shall not be qualified to be the Chairperson unless they are, or have been, a judge in the Supreme Court, or a chief justice in a High Court.
A person shall not be qualified to be a Judicial Member unless they are, or have been, a judge in the Supreme Court, or a judge or a chief justice in a High Court.
A person shall not be qualified to be an Expert Member unless they have a Master of Science and Doctorate degrees, or a Master of Engineering or Master of Technology degree with 15 years of experience in the ‘relevant field’, including five years of practical experience in the field of environment and forests. A person may be appointed as an Expert Member if they have 15 years of administrative experience, including five years of experience in handling environmental matters in a central or state government, or a ‘reputed’ national- or state-level institution.
The NGT shall have jurisdiction over all civil cases where there is a substantial question relating to the environment – including the enforcement of any legal right related to the environment – if the question pertains to the implementation of the laws mentioned in Schedule I of the Act.
Schedule I contains seven laws: 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; and the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
Section 16 states that certain decisions made, or orders passed by, state governments or authorities appointed under the Acts listed in Schedule I, can be appealed against in the tribunal.
Principles that Tribunal Adhere to
While passing any order, decision or award, the tribunal shall apply the principles of sustainable development, and the ‘precautionary’ and ‘polluter pays’ principles.