With the Notification of the Central Government, National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act came into force in 2010. NGT exercises the jurisdiction, powers, and authority granted to it by or under NGT Act.
The Tribunal shall be guided by principles of natural justice so it is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
Moreover, the dedicated environmental jurisdiction of the Tribunal will facilitate timely environmental justice and assist in reducing the burden of litigation of high courts.
Composition of the Tribunal
1. National Green Tribunal shall consist of the following-
- a Chairperson (full-time)
- Minimum 10 and maximum of 20 full-time Judicial Members (number of members may be notified by Central Government from time to time)
- Minimum 10 and maximum of 20 full-time Expert Members (number of members may be notified by Central Government from time to time)
2. If necessary, the chairman of the Tribunal may invite any one or more persons having specialized knowledge and experience in a particular case.
3. The Central Government may specify the ordinary place or places of sitting of the Tribunal.
4. In consultation with the Tribunal Chairperson, the Central Government may establish regulations that generally govern the practices and procedures of the Tribunal.
Appointment of Members of NGT
The Chairperson, Judicial Members, and Expert Members of the Tribunal shall be appointed by the Central Government.
The Chairperson of the NGT shall be appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.
The Judicial Members and Expert Members of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) shall be appointed on the recommendations of such Selection Committee.
Qualifications of Members of NGT
Qualifications for the appointment of Chairperson, judicial member, and expert member is as follows-
Qualifications for the appointment of Chairperson
- a Judge of the Supreme Court of India, or
- Chief Justice of a High Court
Qualifications for the appointment of Judicial Member
- a Judge of the Supreme Court of India, or
- Chief Justice of a High Court, or
- a person who is or has been a Judge of the High Court.
Qualifications for the appointment of Expert Member
- Has a degree in Master of Science, Master of Technology, or Master of Engineering, and has an experience of fifteen years in the relevant field. It also includes five years of practical experience in the field of environment and forests in a National level institution, or
- Has administrative experience of fifteen years including experience of five years in dealing with environmental matters in the Central or State Government or in a National or State level institution.
The Chairperson, Judicial Member, and Expert Member of the Tribunal are not allowed to hold any other office during their tenure.
The Chairperson and other Judicial and Expert Members shall not accept any employment in, or connected with the management or administration of, any person who has been a party to a proceeding before the Tribunal, for a period of two years from the date on which they cease to hold office.
The above provision shall not apply in case of employment under the Central Government or a State Government or local authority or in any statutory authority or any corporation established by or under any Central, State, or Provincial Act or a Government company as defined in the Companies Act, 1956 (1 of 1956).
Term of Office of NGT
All of the members of the National Green Tribunal shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which they enter their office
The members are not eligible for re-appointment.
The Chairperson, Judicial Member, and Expert Member of the National Green Tribunal must address their resignation to the Central Government by notice in writing under their hand.
Removal and Suspension of Members of NGT
The Central Government may, in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, can remove the Chairperson or Judicial Member of the Tribunal, who-
- has been adjudged insolvent; or
- has been convicted of an offense that involves moral turpitude; or
- has become physically or mentally unsound; or
- has acquired financial or other interest; or
- has abused his position.
The Central Government, by rules, regulates the procedure for inquiry.
The Central Government can remove the Chairperson or Judicial Member after an inquiry, made by a Judge of the Supreme Court.
The Chairperson or Judicial Member must be informed of the charges against them and given an opportunity to be heard.
The Expert Member may be removed from his office by an order of the Central Government. The ground for the removal of the expert member must be in accordance with the procedure notified by the Central Government.
The Expert Member has also been given the opportunity of being heard in the matter of removal.
Jurisdiction and Power of National Green Tribunal
- According to SC, the NGT’s role is not just adjudicatory in nature; it must also carry out equally important preventative, ameliorative, or remedial roles.
- In October 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had the authority to address environmental matters countrywide as a “unique” forum with suo motu (on its own initiative) authority.
- The National Green Tribunal has jurisdiction over all civil cases where a substantial question relating to the environment (including enforcement of any legal right related to the environment), is involved.
- The Tribunal can hear disputes over the topics that fall under its jurisdiction and settle such disputes and pass orders thereon.
- The application for adjudication of dispute shall be made within a period of six months from the date on which the cause of action for such dispute first arose, otherwise the application shall not be entertained.
- A further period not exceeding sixty days (beyond 6 months) can be provided by the tribunal to file an application if it is satisfied that the applicant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing in the said period.
Relief, compensation, and restitution
The Tribunal may, by order, provide:
- Relief and compensation to the victims of environmental damage.
- for restitution of property damaged and of the environment for such area or areas, as the Tribunal may think fit.
- The Tribunal will only consider requests for compensation, relief, or restoration of property or the environment if they are submitted within five years of the date on which the initial grounds for those requests first appeared.
Tribunal to have appellate jurisdiction
The Tribunal has the appellate jurisdiction against certain orders or decisions or directions under-
- Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
- water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977
- Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
- Air (Prevention and control of Pollution) Act, 1981
- Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
- Biological Diversity Act, 2002
Decision of NGT
The decision of the Tribunal shall be binding in nature.
Provided that, any person aggrieved by any decision or order of the Tribunal, can file an appeal to the Supreme Court within ninety days of the commencement of the verdict.
Article Written By: Priti Raj