Critical Analysis of National Green Tribunal Bill
However the National Green Tribunal Bill is a landmark judgement by Govt of India towards sustainable growth for speedy disposal of environmental cases but some confusing and incomplete clauses make it just a paper legislation. The Key issues in Legislation are as follows:-
- Restricted access of Individual only in substantial questions related to environment is a big question for sustainable growth because in tribal areas people can’t understand what is substantial or not.
- Substantial Question related to Environment – the act has limited the jurisdiction of tribunal to “substantial question of environment” i.e. situations where ‘damage to public health is broadly measurable’ or ‘significant damage to environment’ or relates to ‘Point Source of Pollution’. The question related to environment can’t left on discretion of an individual especially on subjective assessment whether environment damage is substantial or not.
- Community at Large – it means NGT Jurisdiction is confined to where community at large is affected by specific form of activity such as pollution. It excludes individual or Group of individuals who deserves as much protection as to Community at Large.
- Institutional Structure – the qualifications for a technical member are more favorable to bureaucrats (especially retired) and to irrelevant technocrats. The act considers higher degrees in Science, Technology and Administrative experience but no provision for ecologist, sociologist, environmentalist, civil society or NGO etc.
- Suo Motto – the Tribunal doesn’t have any Suo motto power to initiate a proceedings against anyone even if matters of national interest.
- The Act is silent on provision that who is liable to pay compensation or cost of damage to public health or environment. The MOEF state that it shall be notified in rules but this substantial concern shall be included in act only not on will of executive.
- The Act doesn’t provide jurisdiction to Tribunal over all laws related to environment such as Wildlife Protection Act (1972), Indian Forest Act 1927, Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights Act) 2005 and various other state legislation’s.
- Substantial Question Related to Environment – the clause or phrase shall be explained in detail rather than leaving it to individual reasoning. The phrase includes some matters or examples and also has flexibility to entertain cases of national importance.
- Also term ‘group of individuals’ shall be added with community at large especially to safeguard interests of Tribal people as some tribes (very small population left or living away from original ones) can’t represent community at large.
- Suo Motto – In some cases of public interest or national importance, Tribunal shall have Suo Motto power pick the case or consult with SC/HC as case may be.
- Institutional Structure – The qualification of Expert members need not be confined to physical and life Science and Technology alone but also include disciplines from the social sciences including practical experience in dealing with R&R and related issues.
- Also there is a need of Stipulating that a practicing Lawyer/ Jurist/ Law Professor specializing in environmental and public interest matter could also be considered for appointed as a Judicial Member.