The background behind National Green Tribunal was established on 18 Oct 2010
on the recommendation of the United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development (UNCED) under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 and evolved as a
quasi-judicial body that exclusively deals with the environment and related
The main objective of creating these tribunals in the first place is a small
step towards addressing the legal issues against environmental damage separately
by highlighting its importance in humankind and its ignorance leads to providing
a judicial and administrative reviewing environment.
The article proceeds to further analyse the importance of Environmental
Jurisprudence in manifesting the global perspective toward achieving
environmental justice by fostering the judiciary and assigned authorities. NGT
aimed at securing the ill effects of the Polluter Pay Principle (p.p.p),
attaining and ensuring sustainable development and stretching hands towards
resolving and bringing up the environmental causes on a wider scale with a
motive to adjudicate upon environmental matters.
The Right to heal the environment and other subsidiary matters that are directly
or indirectly linked with environmental matters are covered under Article 21 and
Article 48A of the Indian Constitution instigating a healthier and thriving
environment among the people of the country.
The formation of NGT by renounced Justice that firmly includes P.N. Bhagwati and
Mahesh Chandra is a step toward working on the problems of Climate Change and
its effect. Establishing the tribunal will help in assisting the growing
problems concerning the Environmental by addressing them at every level, both
the head branch (Delhi) and regional branches which include Kolkata, Pune,
Bhopal and Chennai.
The tribunal has a separate civil jurisdiction in environmental causes, which
helps to alleviate the strain on the higher courts. The Tribunal is required to
make every effort to resolve petitions or appeals within six months of their
submission. The tribunal has exclusive, original, and appellate jurisdiction.
Following Australia and New Zealand, India has become the third country in the
world to establish an NGT for environmental justice.
Although the concept of environmental protection is not new in India, we as a
nation just started working on legal protection a few years ago. However, when
people are dying as a result of pollution levels that have already reached
catastrophic levels, environmental justice has become a pressing issue. Under
the guise of development, a great number of tribal people are being displaced
and dispossessed of their shelter and livelihood, on which they rely, without
making sufficient arrangements for alternative sources of livelihood and
They are deprived of natural resources for any development project. While
development is undoubtedly an important aspect of civilisation, we must strike a
balance between environmental justice and long-term development. NGT is
constantly seeking to strike a balance between environmental protection and
The goal to develop the third pillar of environmental democracy motivated the
creation or improvement of environmental courts. The National Green Tribunal of
India was established to provide quick environmental justice. The National Green
Tribunal Act 2010's preamble begins by stating the purpose for which it was
"An Act to establish a National Green Tribunal for the effective and expeditious
disposition of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of
forests and other natural resources, including enforcement of any legal right
relating to the environment and providing relief and compensation for damages to
persons and property, and matters connected with or incidental thereto."
The Indian Supreme Court held in the cases of M.C. Mehta Vs. Union of India,
Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action Vs. Union of India and A.P. Pollution
Control Board Vs. Professor M.V. Nayudu that setting up environmental courts
that firmly mean NGT on a national as well as a regional regional basis with a
legally qualified judge and two experts would help speed up the judicial process
that is under the ambit of NGT with regards to the environmental cases.
The NGT hears civil cases under 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.
Besides the discussion of the aims and objectives of NGT and there are some
exceptions and special cases which does not come under the purview and
jurisdiction of NGT consisting of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and Forest
Right Act 2006. Analysing social sustainability through NGT is a never-ending
process - a path to environmental justice but this article does look upon the
legal status of NGT and its implementation in India.
Composition of NGT: Under Section 4 of NGT consists of:
Eligibility of Members under NGT: Section 5 of NGT involves:
- Full-time Chairperson, Judicial Member and Expert Member
Process of Appointment under NGT: Section 6 of NGT includes:
- The Chairperson of the NGT is a retired Judge of the Supreme Court, Head
Quartered in Delhi.
- Judicial members are retired Judges of High Courts. Each bench of the
NGT will comprise at least one Judicial Member and one Expert Member.
- Expert members should have professional qualifications and a minimum of
15 years of experience in the field of environment/forest conservation and
- Chairperson appointed by Central Govt. with CJI of India.
- Expert Members and Judicial Members appointed by Central Government
Term/ duration of Serving under NGT: Section 7 of NGT defines:
Jurisdiction of Civil cases under NGT:
- Chairperson, Expert and Judicial Member serves for 5yrs as tenure and is
not eligible for reappointments.
- Any judicial member or Chairperson [A judge of SC] cannot hold a
position after the age of 70 yrs or 5 years (tenure) whichever is earlier.
- Any judicial member or Chairperson [A CJI of the High Court] cannot hold
a position after the age of 68 yrs or 5 years (tenure) whichever is earlier.
Section 14 of NGT involves cases related to environmental issues that should be
filed within 6 months. NGT is not bound by the Code of civil procedure 1908 but
follows the principles of Natural Justice.
Section 22 of NGT states that not any decisions of NGT are final and legally
binding and they can be challenged in SC within 90 days.
Deposit of the amount due for environmental harm. -Section 24 of NGT relates to
Penalties and Fines for not complying with NGT: Section 26 of NGT states
- Any amount ordered to be paid as compensation or relief under any award
or order made by the Tribunal based on environmental damage must be remitted
to the authority specified in sub-section (3) of section 7A of the Public
Liability Insurance Act, 1991 (6 of 1991) for credit to the Environmental
Relief Fund established under that section.
- Notwithstanding anything in the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 (6
of 1991), the amount of compensation or relief credited to the Environmental
Relief Fund under sub-section (1) may be used by such persons or
authorities, in such manner and for such purposes relating to the
environment, as may be prescribed.
- Whoever fails to comply with any order, award, or decision of the
Tribunal made under this Act is punishable by imprisonment for a term of up
to three years, or a fine of up to ten crore rupees, or both, and if the
failure or contravention continues, an additional fine of up to twenty-five
thousand rupees for each day the failure or contravention continues after
conviction for the first such failure or contravention.
- If a company fails to comply with any order, award, or decision of the
Tribunal made under this Act, the company shall be fined up to twenty-five
crore rupees, plus an additional fine of one lakh rupees for each day the
failure or contravention continues after conviction for the first such
failure or contravention.
Looking upon the legal status of the National Green Tribunal Act 2010, the
critical assessment of the tribunal is what we analysed and The National Green
Tribunal leaves no stone unturned in adopting all possible bold and effective
preventive measures to protect the environment and safeguard citizens'
environmental rights. It has issued a slew of decrees that affect every corner
of the country, and it has continued to hog the spotlight on a range of
environmental issues while slapping down on anyone found guilty of environmental
Further exploring the various atrocities linked with NGT is what we addressed
and can be looked at way forwards. For instance, the effect of the polluter pays
principle on NGT and the role of NGT in enforcing the Polluter Pay Principle on
the accused. As NGT is a judicial body it highlights the Polluter Pays Principle
states that the financial expenses of preventing or repairing pollution-related
damage should be borne by the businesses that cause pollution or manufacture
In the landmark case of Vellore Citizen's Welfare Forum v. Union of India,
the apex court states "PPP is an integral part of the environment jurisprudence
of India and the National Green he Tribunal while passing any order or decision
or award, shall apply the principles of sustainable development, the
precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle."
The article proceeds When an event organised by Art of Living took place, the
NGTl took a step forward in terms of environmental preservation. The Tribunal
ruled in this case that "the Foundation should be held liable for the river's
restoration in all respects for the damage caused to the environment, ecology,
biodiversity, and aquatic life."
Art of Living was also fined 5 crore rupees.
The threat of human excrement being sprayed on buildings from aeroplanes landing
prompted the tribunal to impose a 50,000-rupee fine on aircraft that empty
toilet tanks in the air. A Panama-based shipping company and two of its
Qatar-based sister concerns were fined 100 crore rupees for causing an oil spill
off the coast of South Mumbai on August 4, 2011.
The NGT also ordered Gujarat-based Adani Enterprises Ltd to pay 5 crore rupees
in environmental compensation to the Ministry of Shipping for dumping 60,054 MT
coal carried by ship M V RAK at the bottom and harming the maritime environment.
The panel urged the government to approve and implement action plans to address
the "environmental emergency" in Delhi and the surrounding areas, as well as to
deregister 10-year-old diesel vehicles.
Every Act has its pros and cons. Similarly, the National Green Tribunal Act 2010
faced immense challenges to achieve environmental justice with intensive social
pressure on the working of tribunals. Because of their implications for economic
growth and development, NGT decisions have been criticised and questioned.
The tribunal has also been condemned for the lack of a formula and
structure-based system for assessing compensation and asserting its superiority
over the High Court in the country. The stakeholders and the government do not
fully implement the NGT's decisions. Its decisions are also cited as not being
practical to implement within a specified deadline.
The epilogue in the matter of analysing the socio-legal effects of NGT on
society is both impulsive and equally comprehensible for the system in achieving
its goal. Therefore, asserting more autonomy and a broader scope for the NGT are
required for successful environmental protection that is compatible with human
development in coming future generations.
- National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, �, NO. 19, Act of Parliament,
- The 'polluter pays' principle states that people who cause pollution
should pay for the costs of controlling it in order to avoid harm to human
health or the environment equally.
- A.P. Pollution Control Board vs Prof.M.V.Nayudu (Retd.) & Others on 27
- Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum vs Union Of India & Ors on 28 August,
1996 1996 5 SCR 241