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National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act-Jurisdiction

Original Jurisdiction:

  1. Under section 14 of the NGT act, tribunal has given power to entertain all civil cases related substantial question related to environment. Here it is not only included damages to environment but even issues related to enforcement of legal right are also entertained
     
  2. Under clause 3 of section 14 of the NGT act, time limitation period to file complaint is 60 days from the cause of act, and tribunal may even allow after 60 days in exceptional circumstances where tribunal gets satisfied that complainant was prevented from filing such complainant.
     
  3. In India, there are total 4 tribunals situated differed as South, North, East, and West.
     
  4. Here from terminology of section it can be seen that there is not so high level of threshold as to make allow complaint in the tribunal because wordings of the section gives wide jurisdiction as complaint could be filed in ‘any matter related to environment’
     
  5. Here only condition which can be seen from the subsequent judicial proceeding or over which it can be argued for jurisdiction is that- damages to environment should not be the subsequent consequences of the act but damages should have occurred over which present complaint is filed.
     
  6. Another condition or threshold exists for complainant that issue or question should arise from the subject matter mentioned in 7 statutes mentioned in the first schedule as:
    • 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;
    • The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
       
  7. The application procedure is even simpler as complainant have to follow template as provided- https://www.conservationindia.org/wp-content/files_mf/NGTApplication-Appeal-templates.pdf
     
  8. Here complainant can argue himself in his own case without an advocate.
     
  9. Here even complaint against government decisions, policies, orders passed against or in violation of the any subject matter in seven statutes mentioned in the first schedule of the NGT act can be filed as it violated legal right of the complainant related to environment or if there is any substantial issue of environment is arising due to such government decisions.
     
  10. availability of an appellate authority under NGT act is in the two forms as revision petition can be filed under section 29 of the act. This revision petition lies before state board to revise its own decision for checking legality or propriety of any such order, whereas bar on this jurisdiction only where order made Under Section 25, Section 26 or Section 27 where an appeal against that order lies to the appellate authority, but has not been preferred or where an appeal has been preferred such appeal is pending before the appellate authority.
     
  11. Further, an appellate authority for decision paased by the state board is National Green Tribunal established under section 3 of the NGT act and another appellate authority under section 22 of the NGT act is Supreme Court where court is bound to entertain appeal made within period of 90 days and have to entertain it within those 90 days. Appeal before Supreme Court lies after aggrieved party get order from the tribunal.

Alternative Jurisdiction:
In reference to case - All Plastic Industries Association vs Government of Tripura and Ors.[i] Here complainant filed an writ petition against an order of the government under section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Here under this section central government have power to issue direction to any person, authority, officer as:
  1. the closure, prohibition or regulation of any industry, operation or process; or
  2. stoppage or regulation of the supply of electricity or water or any other service.

Now here it is express provision that if any person is aggrieved by orders under provision may directly approach the NGT after its commencement but here complainant filed an writ petition. Now question was whether such writ petition should be allowed or not.

Here by court observed that:
Article 226 of the constitution empowers the High Court to issue writs for the enforcement of the fundamental rights as well as for any other purposes. The power of the High Court is not confined to writs only. It can issue suitable directions or orders to any person or authority within its jurisdiction.

However, the words for any other purpose should not be taken to mean that the High Court can issue writs for any purpose it pleases; these words should be taken to mean that the High Court can issue writs for the enforcement of any of the fundamental rights guaranteed by part 3 of the Constitution and also for the enforcement of any other legal right or legal duty. The remedy provided for in Article 226 is a discretionary remedy and cannot be claimed as a matter of right and the High Court can refuse to issue the writs. However, the High Court is required to exercise its discretion on recognized and established principles and not arbitrarily.

In the case of existence of equal, efficient and adequate alternative remedy, the High Court may refuse to exercise its writ jurisdiction. However, the existence of alternative remedy is a rule of discretion and not a rule of law and, thus, existence of alternative remedy is not an absolute bar and in appropriate cases, the High Court may grant the remedy under Article 226, even if the petitioner has not exercised the alternative remedy in cases

End-Notes:
  1. All India Plastic Industries Association vs. Government of Tripura and Ors. (31.01.2014 - Tripura) : MANU/TR/0015/2014

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