The High Court of Himachal Pradesh has suspended the operation of the June 8 order of the National Green Tribunal, wherein NGT had ceased the functioning of Chairmen of 10 State Pollution Control Boards, due to the failure of such States to make appointments in adherence to its earlier judgment.
The Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Sandeep Sharma noted that States of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Government of NCT of Delhi have been given two months time to frame the rules and regulations, and thereafter, a month for appointing the Chairmen of the respective Pollution Control Board/Committee in accordance with such Rules.
"As such, in the given facts and circumstances, we find that the petitioner has made out a case for interference and as such, we dispose of the present petition, making the directions issued in para -14 of the impugned order dated 8th July, 2017 passed in Original Application No.318 of 2013 titles as Rajendra Singh Bhandari versus State of U.K. & others, applicable also to the State of Himachal Pradesh and the H.P. State Pollution Control Board. Till then, operation of directions contained in para-13 qua the present petition shall remain suspended", states the Order.
It then took into consideration the submission of the Senior Advocate B.C. Negi who submitted that the Rules under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 for appointment, educational qualifications and service conditions of the Chairman and Member Secretary are under preparation by the State Government, and would be finalized after consultation with the advisory departments of the State Government as also Public Service Commission. He further informed the Court that the draft was already prepared.
Thereafter, suspending the operation of the order, the Bench observed, “We find that perhaps, such averments escaped attention of the Tribunal which led to formation of the opinion that despite ample opportunities, State failed to comply with /implement the judgment/ orders.” The Court, however, clarified that it was not expressing any opinion with regard to the other issues.
SPCB Chiefs who had come under the NGT axe belong to the States of Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Rajasthan, Telangana, Haryana, Maharashtra and Manipur.
The NGT Bench comprising Mr. R.S. Rathore (Judicial Member) and Mr. S.S. Garbyal (Expert Member) had noted that the States had failed to initiate steps, to implement the judgment passed by the Tribunal in August, 2016.
Noting that the stance of the States has remained the same, even six months after the deadline, it, thereafter, ruled, “The Tribunal cannot remain a silent spectator in respect of improper and illegal working of Pollution Control Board/Committee and its consequence and repercussion to the public at large. It is rather strange that despite of more than sufficient time having been given by the Tribunal the aforesaid States did not take steps to implement the judgment passed by the Tribunal on 24th August, 2016… In such view of the matter this Tribunal, after considering the case in its entirety and carefully perusal the reply filed to the show cause notices, has no option but to ask the Chairman of the Pollution Control Boards, mentioned above, to cease from functioning as Chairman.”