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National Green Tribunal Act, 2010

The National Green Tribunal Act received presidential assent on 2nd June, 2010. In a country, where the backlog of cases runs into crores, the Parliament deemed it fit to enact an Act that would "provide for the establishment of a National Green Tribunal for the effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection." The paper begins with analysing the need of setting-up of such Tribunals in light of the State's obligation to protect the Environment.

The tribunal forms a specialized body to adjudicate upon environmental issues. In a democratic system, such as India, it is imperative for the state to provide a platform for effective and speedy disposal of environmental cases. The paper would then proceed to analyse the development of Environmental Jurisprudence in India fostered by the judiciary.

While a remarkable change in the perspective towards Environmental protection is manifest with the establishment of the National Green Tribunal, its parent Act suffers from various shortcomings. The same have been criticized and recommendations have been made to amend such impediments.

The specific goal of UN 2030 is with the agenda for the Sustainable Development of Environment can be achieved by only setting up the essential courts and tribunal for its progress Almost 1200 environmental courts, and tribunals are working in various countries and more courts are being planned to be established for further improvement.

It has been analysed that if environmental cases are to be concerned, then it should be according to scientific analysis, which is only possible with the help of experts and judicial officers. If this is followed, then the judicial system can become more efficient for resolving the environment matters.

National Green Tribunal was established in 2010 which was under the National green tribunal act. This act is related to the disposal of civil cases in relation to environmental protection and also for the conservation of natural resources. There is an inclusion of legal rights and which are related to the environment. The National Green Tribunal Act,2010 is enacted under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, and it explains the right to live in a clean and healthy environment.[1]

Role Of State-From 'Police' To 'Welfare' State

A rather simplistic, primeval state that existed a few centuries ago has now been catapulted into a highly complex state that, as the protector, regulator, guarantor and guardian of its citizens, is enmeshed in a labyrinth of political duties. The newly formed, albeit the one that developed gradually, state can rightly be termed as a 'welfare state' that seeks to attend to the general welfare of its citizens.

The contemporary socio-political regime supposes the existence of a 'welfare state' to look after the multifarious needs of its citizens. The increase in duties of the Government brought with it the responsibility to protect the environment to ensure proper livelihood. Consequently, increasing number of environmental disputes necessitated setting-up of specialized courts competent to adjudicate upon such complex disputes.[2]

Development In India

The development of environmental protection laws in India can be studied in light of various international treaties, legislative implementations and judicial interventions that supplemented and fostered the growth of environmental jurisprudence in the state. The Stockholm Declaration in 1972 brought forth the issue of environmental protection to international attention and provided the much-needed impetus to environmental legislation in India.

The palpable result of the Declaration was the Constitution (forty second Amendment) Act, 1976 that inserted Articles 48A2 and 51A (g)3 to the Constitution of India. The cumulative effect of the articles was an obligation, on both state and citizens to protect, preserve and safeguard the environment. In order 2 Article 48A reads as follows- "Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wild life.

The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wild life of the country." Article 51A (g) reads as follows-" to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures."

To further implement the decisions held at Stockholm, the Parliament in 1986 enacted the Environment (Protection) Act to "provide for the protection and improvement of environment" and for the purpose of "prevention of hazards to human beings, other living creatures, plants and property". Supplementing the Act are various legislations that prevent pollution of air , water , forest and provide for the protection of biodiversity.

To provide for effective distribution and estimation of remedy, the Parliament further enacted the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 that was followed by the National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995 and the National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997. This compendium of legislative enactments may rightly be termed as the Indian corpus of Environmental law that rightly forms the cornerstone of Environmental jurisprudence in India.[3]

Right To Healthy Environment

Bolstering the environmental edifice is the Indian judiciary that has constantly, by means of either statutory interpretation or activism strengthened environmental diligence in India. Such has been the role of the Indian Judiciary that even in the absence of a constitutional mandate to the state to protect the environment, the state is obliged to preserve it; making environmental protection a well-entrenched policy in governance. There exists a catena of judgments emphasizing on the need to a safe, healthy and clean environment. [4]

In a celebrated case involving illegal quarrying of limestone, the Supreme Court for the first time held that it is "the right of the people to live in healthy environment with minimal disturbance of ecological balance and without avoidable hazard to them and to their cattle, homes and agricultural land and undue affectation of air, water and environment."

In another judgment of far-reaching consequence, The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Rules, 1982, The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2002. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977, Central Board for the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution (Procedure for Transaction of Business) Rules, 1975. The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2003, The Wild Life (Protection) Act,1972. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002, the Apex court held that an inherently dangerous industry owes an absolute and non-delegable duty to take the highest standards of safety and account for any harm that result from such activity.

The sensitivity of the judiciary towards environmental protection is manifest in its various judgments. This trend of environmental protection and activism eventually led to a growing desire to establish courts competent to handle environmental disputes. The pressing need ultimately culminated in the enactment of the National Green Tribunal Act that serves as a milestone in environmental jurisprudence

Statement Of Objects And Reasons For The Enactment Of The Act

In recent years, a lot of pressure has been imposed on the natural sources of the environment due to the expansion of the industries, transportation and increasing urbanisation and there are pending cases related to the environment in other courts. So, this reason includes setting up of National Green Tribunal under the Act.

India being a member of the United Nations Conference on Human Environment called upon to provide a very effective judicial and administrative proceedings and to redress the liabilities regarding National laws for the victims in relation to environmental pollution and damage.

The main object is the right to life, and a healthy environment which is given under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution has been constructed in the matter of judicial proceedings.

The National Green Tribunal is enacted for the strict liability which can be imposed after one indulges in environmental damages or accidents related to hazardous substances.[5]

There is setting up of National Green Tribunal Under this Act for better relief and compensation with regards to the damages to persons, property and the environment.

National Green Tribunal Bill, 2009

As the National Green Tribunal was set up with legal rights to the environment for the effective disposal of the cases. Accordingly, it has been decided for the introduction of National Green Tribunal Bill, 2009 which lays down the following procedure:
  • For the establishment of the national green tribunal, the composition must include a chairperson, judicial experts and environmental experts according to the Central Government notification.
  • The person should be the judge of the supreme court or the Chief Justice of a high court to be appointed as the chairperson of the tribunal.[6]
  • The person who has been qualified as a judge of the high court shall be given eligibility to be a judicial member of the tribunal.
  • In the appointment of Expert member, one needs to be an expert either in the physical sciences, life sciences or one who has dealt with the environmental matters.

Composition Of The Tribunal

Under section 4 of the act, the tribunal shall consist of the following:
  • An eligible chairperson as per defined in the National Green Tribunal Bill, 2009 which should be a full-time Chairperson
  • Ten to Twelve full-time judicial members or as per the Central government notification
  • The chairperson has the power of calling the specialised person who has a particular experience to the tribunal for assistance.
  • The central government can notify about the territorial jurisdiction falling under a particular place of sitting.
  • The central government with the consultation of Chairperson, can make rules and regulations in relation to the Tribunal.[7]

Qualifications Of The Members

The chairperson should be qualified as a judge of the supreme court or the chief justice of the high court.

The member of the tribunal should have a qualification in relation to the judge of high court as a judicial expert.

As the non-judicial expert, one should have the degree of masters in science or doctorate degree or with a master's degree in engineering.

Jurisdiction Of The Tribunal

Under section 14 of the act, the tribunal shall have jurisdiction to the following:
  • The tribunal has jurisdiction over the civil cases which are in consonance of the matters related to the environment.
  • The tribunal shall involve the disputes related to the above-written matter.
  • The application should only be made in the time span of six months from the commencement of cause of the case.[8]

Bar Of Jurisdiction

According to the provisions given under section 29 of the act, the following is the bar of jurisdiction:
  • No civil court is determined to entertain any case which is empowered to determine as an appeal.
  • The civil courts are also barred to entertain any question which is related to the compensation or relief is given by the Tribunal.
  • No civil court is given permission to grant an injunction on a particular case before the tribunal which is in respect to the settlement of disputes in case of compensation or restitution of property.[9]

Powers Of The Tribunal

Under section 19 of the act, the Tribunal shall have the power that would be required to regulate its own procedure.[10]

The powers of the tribunal are as follows:
  • Power to relief by issuing the compensation to the aggrieved person after analysing the matter in a scientific manner with a properly researched report.
  • Issuance of the commission for witnessing the documents
  • Reviewing the decision of a particular case
  • It has a power of dismissing the application if it is considered to have defaulted or its decided to be ex parte.
  • Granting the interim orders are considered as a power to the tribunal and it can be done after hearing both the parties.
  • Power to give an order regarding the ceasement of a person from further committing or violating the enactments specified in the Schedule I.

Under section 20, the tribunal has the power to pass any order or award in relation to the substantial development.

Under section 21 of the act, decisions which are taken by the majority of the members in the tribunal are considered as binding on the aggrieved parties.

Penalty For Failure To Comply With The Awards Or Decisions Of A Tribunal

Under section 26[11] of the act, In the matter of failure to comply with the decision given by the tribunal, the National green tribunal follows a method of deterrent punishment.
The provisions laid down for the punishment are as follows:
  • Imprisonment extended up to three years
  • Fine which may extend up to ten crore rupees
  • Or with both imprisonment and the fine
  • In case if the contravention is still followed every day, the amount of twenty-five thousand rupees will be charged every day
  • In case if a company fails to comply
  • Such company shall be punishable in the following manner.
  • Fine which may extend to twenty-five crores.
In case if the contravention or failure continues, additional fine with one lakh of fine may extend.

Case Laws:
  1. Braj Foundation V Govt. Of Up[12]

    This case was put forth by Braj foundation in which it was given that the government should make the memorandum of understanding for the forestation of Vrindavan. It was given by the government that the advertisement which was issued was just an invitation to treat but it cannot be regarded as a contract. But the tribunal gave guidelines to the government that it is the duty of it to promote afforestation. One of the significant aims was to create a 100-meter-long belt on both the sides of braj parikrama.
  2. Jeet Singh Kanwar V Union Of India[13]

    In this case, the petitioners challenge the environment clearance, which was ordered for installing the coal-fired power plant. In the end, it was observed that if that environmental clearance is not resulting in excess environmental degradation, then the project involved can be continued. But further, the tribunal gave the award regarding the illegality of the environment clearance due to consequences.
  3. Vardaman Kaushik V Union Of India[14]

    The court observed the problem of a growing population in Delhi and ordered to set up an action plan and directed that the vehicles which are 10 years old are prohibited and the burning plastic is prohibited.

    For the implementation of various tracks were constructed for cycles and forces were set up to keep a check-up vehicle and fine of Rs. 1000 was kept on cars parked on metallic sand tracks and it was offered that multi-level parking is constructed in appropriate areas.

It is justifiable that National green tribunal is of great importance when it comes to cases in relation to board environmental problems. It is a tool for sharing and enhancing more substantial development of the environment. The great need to know about conflict includes when the matters related to water, air, land etc. has emerged on which various judgements are to be given.

But it is an advantage that due to national green tribunals, lawyers are encouraged to specialize in environmental law and the tribunal is therefore considered as an important aspect to provide justice in the matters related to the environment. A time is awaited when our environment will be given most importance through the medium of law pertaining to it.

  • Dr. Paramjit S Jaswal, Environmental law
  1. The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, available at (last visited on 5 April, 2023)
  2. National Green Tribunal (NGT), available at (last visited on 5 April, 2023)
  3. National Green Tribunal, (last visited on 5 April, 2023)
  4. Right to Clean Environment, available at (last visited on 5 April, 2023)
  5. All about National Green Tribunal, available at (last visited on 5 April, 2023)
  6. The National Green Tribunal Bill, 2009, available at (last visited on 5 April, 2023)
  7. Section 4, Green Tribunal Act, 2010
  8. Section 14, Green Tribunal Act, 2010
  9. Section 29, Green Tribunal Act, 2010
  10. Section 19, Green Tribunal Act, 2010
  11. Section 26, Green Tribunal Act, 2010
  12. Braj Foundation vs S Govt. Of U.P. Ors on 5 August, 2014
  13. Jeet Singh Kanwar And Another vs Moef And Others on 16 April, 2013
  14. Vardhaman Kaushik vs Union Of India on 27 July, 2018

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