Overview of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
Proper implementation and monitoring of any policies and regulations are some of the most critical steps in fulfilling the objective of that particular legislation. According to one of the Sustainable Goals, 2030, prescribed by the United Nationsandthe 13 Principlesof the Rio Declaration on Development and Environment,to ensurethat our environment is protected and sustainable development is achieved, specialised courts and tribunals are needed to be established by the government. Therefore the Government of India and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change enacted the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act, 2010,to fulfil this requirement and ensure that all the environmental legislations are appropriately executed. Another aim was to ensure that the basic fundamental rights of the people mentioned under Article 21 of the constitution were ratified.
A part of the legislation aims to establish the powers and functions of the National Green Tribunal Act. Furthermore, NGTAct 2010 aims to provide proper definitions for essential terms including accidents, environment, expert members, handling hazardous substances, injuries, judicial members etc.
National Green Tribunal
NGT was instituted under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, on October 18, 2010. The primarypurpose behind the institution of the tribunal was to dispose of the cases related to environmental protection effectively and expeditiously. Along with this, NGT,under the act,also has jurisdiction over cases related to preserving forests or natural resources. Also, the National Green Tribunal is responsible forenforcing legislation relating to the environment. The tribunal's decisions are irrevocable and have the power to award compensation as a relief.
Jurisdiction of the NGT
NGT has jurisdiction over matters relating to legislations mentioned under Schedule 1 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. The listed statutes in Schedule 1 are: -
- The Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
- The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
- The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977;
- The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991;
- The Forest Act, 1980;
- The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
- The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
The tribunal under the act has authority over all civil cases, including substantial questions relating to the preservation of the environment. Moreover, any person aggrieved by any judgement or decree of the Appellate Authorities under the legislations mentioned above can also challenge them before the National Green Tribunal.
Functions and Power of the National Green Tribunal
The Powers and functions of the NGT are defined under Chapter 3, Section 19 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. Some of its powers and functions are: -
- The tribunal has the power to decide all the matters, including substantial questions relating to the preservation of the environment.
- NGT is a statutory body that entertains matters of appellant jurisdiction and matters concerning original jurisdiction.
- The National Green Tribunal also has the power to order compensation and relief from the person who has caused harm to the environment and human health using toxic substances.
- It also has power relating to the restitution of property and damage caused to the environment.
- One of the main functions of the NGT under the act is a speedy trial, due to which it is aimed to dispose of the case within six months from the date of filing of the complaint.
Constitution of NGT under the National Green Tribunal Act
Central Government established the National Green Tribunal. Under Section 4 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, the tribunal is composed of a full-time chairperson. Accompanying the chairperson, there must also be at least ten to twenty full-time judicial members as prescribed by the Central Government. The chairperson or judicial member of the National Green Tribunal should be or must have been a Chief Justice of a High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court. In the case of a judicial person, any judge of the High Court, present or ex, may also control the office.
Stakeholders under the NGT Act
The National Green Tribunal Act also states that an application for grant of compensation or relief for reimbursement of the dispute may be made to the tribunal by any of the following persons —
- Any person who has endured physical harm to the body or;
- The property owner whose property has been damaged, or;
- Any of the legal representatives of the departed where death has resulted from environmental damage; or;
- Any person duly sanctioned by such person or owner of such land or any of the legal representatives of the departed, as the case,may be, or;
- Any person aggrieved, including any representative body or organisation.
Apart from this, Central Government or State Government or any government authorities, including the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)/State Pollution Control Board (SPCB)/Pollution Control Committee (PCC)/Union Territory Administration or any environmental authority is recognised under the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 has liberty to move to the tribunal in the matters relating to Environmental Protection.
Relief and Compensation under National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
Under National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, NGT has power relating to the restitution of property and damage caused to the environment. But, under Section 24, the act has mentioned various limitations/conditions to the compensation, which include: -
- The application for compensation/relief should be made within five years to the National Green Tribunal.
- Under schedule II, the heads under with compensation are payable as follows: -
- Death or permanent disability of a person
- Presence of work loss or wage loss and medical expenses
- When it has instigated damage to personal or private property
- Addition of the expenses the government incurs for providing relief to the affected party
- The reimbursement that is obligatory for the environmental refurbishment of the quality
- Employment or loss of business
- Claims to evolve out of undertakings dealing with hazardous substances
Penalty under the NGT Act, 2010
The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010also prescribe a penalty under Section 26 in case someone or some organisation fails to abide by the guidelines given by the tribunals or NGTs. The penalty as laid down by the provisions are as follows: -
- Imprisonment that may extend to three years
- A fine that may extend to ten crore rupees
- In some extreme cases, both are imposed
- If the fine is still not paid, the amount of twenty-five thousand is still charged daily.
In the case of the company, it will be punishable under the act in the following manner: -
- Fine may be imposed and may extend to twenty-five crores.
- But if the company's activities continue even after the penalty, an additional fine of twenty-five thousand per day will be imposed.
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