NGT - Asian Judges Network on Environment (AJNE)

The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
-a Step forward in Environmental Adjudication in India
A presentation
Ministry of Environment & Forests
Government of India
Civil Procedure Code (CPC)- remedying public wrongs by
Civil Courts, applying the principle of strict liability
Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)- injunction against
Public Nuisance by Executive Magistrates
Criminal prosecutions before Judicial Magistrate under
various laws.
Appellate Authority’s provision in some statutes to hear
appeals against the order of the State Pollution Control
Boards (SPCB)
The National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995: The Act provides for
strict liability for damages, caused by accident occurring while
handling hazardous substance and to provide relief and compensation
to the victims.
The Act, however, could not be enforced due to limited mandate.
The National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997. The Act
provides a judicial forum for hearing appeals against order of grant of
environmental clearances under the E(P) Act, 1986
Constitutional remedies under Article 32 and Article 226 of the
Constitution of India
Dimensions of the Challenge
Pressures on environment: Due to economic development,
infrastructural growth, urbanization & changing life styles
Promoting intersectorality and integrating safety, health
and environmental concerns
Balancing environment & development
Strengthening implementation & compliance mechanism
Institutional reform in adjudicatory system to keep pace
with the implementation of the environmental legislations
Supreme Court’s directive to Constitute
Environmental Courts- Background:
originated from Supreme Court’s Judgment in Oleum
Gas Leak case, 1986 and other cases:
(i) M. C. Mehta Vs Union of India : 1986 (2) SCC 176 (202)
(ii) Indian Council for Enviro Legal Action Vs Union of India : 1996 (3)
SCC 212 (252)
(iii) A. P. Pollution Control Board Vs M. V. Nayudu 1999 (2) SCC 718
Supreme Court in 2000 requested the Law Commission of India to
consider constitution of specialized courts in view of inadequacy in
the constitution of the Appellate Authorities which neither have
judges nor the assistance of experts :
A. P. Pollution Control Board Vs M. V. Nayudu 2001 (2) SCC 62
 Need to constitute environmental courts due to
multidisciplinary issues relating to protection of
 To have Members with judicial or legal experience
assisted by technical experts
 Environmental Courts in each State or group of
 Environment Courts to have original jurisdiction in
all civil cases where a substantial question relating
to environment is involved ; and
 Appellate jurisdiction under various other statutes
Legislative Framework
The Water (P&CP) Act, 1974
 The Water (P&CP) Cess Act, 1977
 The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
 The Air (P&CP) Act, 1981
 The Environment (P) Act, 1986
 The Public Liability (Insurance) Act, 1991
 The National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995*
 The National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997*
 The Biological Diversity Act, 2002
*since repealed.
Rationale behind the National Green Tribunal
(NGT) Act, 2010
Increasing complexity of environmental litigation
Frequent need to seek assistance of environmental experts
Mounting pendancy in courts
Lack of dedicated jurisdiction
Rigidity of existing court procedures to deal with
environmental cases
 Non-enforcement of NET Act, 1995
 To maintain proper balance between sustainable
development & environmental regulations.
 Access to Justice
Objective of the NGT
To provide for the establishment of a National Green
Tribunal (NGT)
-for the effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating
to environmental protection and conservation of forests and
other natural resources
-including enforcement of any legal right relating to
environment and
-giving relief & compensation for damages to persons and
 NGT to be set up by the Central Government
 NGT shall sit at such places and shall have territorial
jurisdiction, as may be specified by the Central Govt.
 It shall follow the circuit approach
 Central Govt., in consultation with Chairperson, to make
rules regarding the procedure to be followed by NGT for
hearing the matters, the number of judicial and expert
members to hear cases etc.
Composition of NGT
It Shall have :
a full time Chairperson; and
Not less than ten and not more than twenty full time Judicial
Members and not less than ten and not more than twenty full
time Expert Members
Chairperson may invite one or more experts, from out side,
having specialize knowledge to assist the Tribunal in a
particular case;
Chairperson to be appointed by Central Govt. in consultation
with Chief Justice of India; and
Judicial and Expert Members to be appointed on the
recommendation of a Selection Committee
Qualifications for Appointments
 Chairperson :- A person who is or has been a Judge
of the Supreme Court or Chief Justice of a High
 Judicial Member:- A person who is or has been a
Judge of a High Court
 Expert Member:- Qualification and experience in
relevant scientific and technological field or practical
experience in dealing with environmental matters
Term of Office
Chairperson, Judicial and Expert Member shall be
appointed for a period of five years
Chairperson and Judicial Member, if judge of Supreme
Court, shall not hold office after the age of 70 years
Chairperson and Judicial Member, if judge of the High
Court, shall not hold office after the age of 67 years
Expert Member shall not hold office after the age of 65
Original Jurisdiction
The Tribunal shall have jurisdiction on all civil cases
where :
- a substantial question relating to environment is involved;
- such question arises out of the implementation of the
enactments specified in Schedule I appended to the NGT
The Tribunal shall settle disputes, provide relief &
compensation and may order restitution of damaged
Schedule – I
The Water (P & CP) Act, 1974;
The Water (P & CP) Cess Act, 1977;
The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
The Air (P&CP) Act,1981;
The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991;
The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
What is ‘Substantial Question Relating to
As defined in the Act:
It includes an instance where –
there is direct violation of a specific statutory
environmental obligation whereby:
-the community at large is affected or likely to be affected
by the environmental consequences or
-the gravity of damage to the environment or property is
substantial or
-the damage to public health is broadly measurable
 The environmental consequences relate to specific activity
or point source of pollution
Appellate Jurisdiction
 Appeal may be preferred before NGT against:
 Order of Appellate Authority u/s 28 of Water Act,1974
 Order of State Govt. u/s 29 of Water Act,1974
 Directions by the SPCBs u/s 33A of Water Act,1974
 Decision of Appellate Authority u/s 13 of Water Cess
 Order of State Govt. u/s 2 of Forest (Conservation) Act,
Appellate Jurisdiction
 Order of Appellate Authority u/s 31 of Air Act,1981
 Directions u/s 5 of Environment (P) Act,1986
 Grant or Refusal of Environmental Clearance Under
Environment (P) Act, 1986
 Order or determination of benefit sharing, made by National
Biodiversity Authority /State Biodiversity Board, under the
Biological Diversity Act, 2002
------------------------------------------------------------------Note: Corresponding amendments in relevant Acts have been
provided in Sec.-36, as per Schedule-III, so as to have enabling
provisions for hearing appeals in the respective statutes
Award for Relief, Compensation and restitution
of damaged environment
Tribunal may by order provide:
-Relief and compensation to the victims of pollution and
for other environmental damage arising under the
enactment specified in the schedule I including accident
while handling any hazardous substance
-restitution of property damaged
-restitution of environment of the areas as the Tribunal
may think fit
Limitation of filing application and the
heads for claiming relief and compensation
Application for relief and compensation or restitution to be
made within five years from the date on which the cause
for such compensation or relief first arose
Compensation or relief payable under heads specified in
Schedule II
Sch. – II: Heads of Compensation/Relief
Death, permanent or temporary disability or injury
Loss of wages and medical expenses
Damage to private or other property
Expenses incurred by the Government / Local Authorities in providing
relief and rehabilitation to the affected persons
Compensation for environmental degradation and restoration of the
quality of environment
Claim on account of damage or destruction of flora, fauna, crops,
vegetables, trees, orchards, etc.
Loss of business or employment or both
Any other claim arising out of any activity of handling of hazardous
Application to the Tribunal
An application for settlement of disputes or relief or compensation may
be made by:
the person who has sustained the injury; or
owner of the damaged property; or
legal representatives of the deceased; or
any agent duly authorized by the person affected; or
Any person aggrieved including representative body or organization; or
Govt./CPCB/SPCBs/PCCs or any environmental authority constituted
or established under the Environment (P) Act, or any other law for the
time being in force
The application or appeal to be decided expeditiously, after hearing the
parties, within a period of six months from the date of the filing of the
application or appeal.
Power and Procedure of NGT
 NGT is not bound by the procedure laid down by CPC
but guided by the principles of natural justice.
 NGT shall have the power to regulate its own procedure
and not be bound by the Indian Evidence Act, 1872
 NGT shall exercise powers of a Civil Court in respect of
summoning, enforcing attendance, examining on oath,
receiving evidence on affidavits, deciding matters exparte etc. and power to grant interim orders, injunctions
or stay
NGT to follow certain principles
NGT, while deciding the cases, shall apply:
the principle of sustainable development,
the precautionary principle; and
the polluter pays principle
Orders of the NGT & Appeal to
Supreme Court
Civil Court to execute the order or award made by the NGT
Any payment or deposit of the amount directed by the NGT,
as award, shall be recoverable as arrears of land revenue or of
public demand
Award or order of the NGT shall be executable as a decree of
a Civil Court
Decision taken by the NGT, by majority, shall be binding
NGT may award cost for filing false or vexatious claims
Persons aggrieved against the order of the NGT may
prefer an appeal to the Supreme Court with in ninety days
Penalty for Non-compliance of the
orders of NGT
 Punishable with imprisonment upto three years or with fine not
exceeding ten crore rupees ($2200000 aprox), or with both.
 If non- compliance continues, an additional fine of Rs. 25,000 ($
500 approx) per day during the period contravention continues
For Companies:
 fine may extend upto twenty-five crore rupees ($5500000 aprox),
 If non-compliance continues, additional fine of Rs. 1 lakh ($2000
aprox) per day during the period contravention continues
Bar of Jurisdiction
 Civil courts are debarred to entertain disputes regarding
any claim for granting relief or compensation or restitution
of property damaged which may be under the jurisdiction
of the NGT
 No injunction to be granted by any civil court in respect of
any action or order of the NGT
 Civil Court’s jurisdiction is debarred to hear appeals in
such cases where the decisions of the authorities are
appealable before the NGT
Repeal and Savings
 The National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995 repealed
 The National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA)
Act, 1997 repealed
 NEAA abolished
 The functions of the NEAA to be subsumed in the NGT and
pending appeals shall be transferred to NGT
Expected Improvements
NGT shall have Judicial and Scientific Experts
NGT will ensure speedy disposal of environmental cases
Flexibility in procedures to help dispose cases within six
Any aggrieved person can file cases before NGT to ensure
greater access to justice
NGT will ensure timely relief and compensation to the
victims, in addition to the Public Liability Insurance Act,
Expected Improvement
 NGT Act addresses the issue of lack of appellate
provisions under the Environment (P) Act & Forest
(Conservation) Act,
 Unlike NEAA, the NGT shall also hear appeals against
refusal to grant Environment Clearances
 Provides 2nd Tier of appeal under certain legislations
 Appellate Jurisdiction of High Court under Biological
Diversity Act transferred to NGT
 Reduction of burden on Higher Courts