While upholding the principles of natural justice, the Delhi High Court has observed that an order imposing environmental costs can't be passed without giving a prior notice to the alleged violator.
The Single Bench of Justice Navin Chawla has asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to reconsider its decision after providing a hearing to the Petitioner.
In the present petition, the Public Works Department of Delhi Government had challenged the the Demand Letters dated 08.04.2019, 15.05.2019 and 17.09.2019 issued by the CPCB demanding Environmental Compensation of Rs.1 crore from the Petitioner under Section 5 of The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
On the other hand, Mr Baklendu Shekhar, who was appearing for CPCB, had submitted that prior to the issuance of the Impugned Directions, the respondent had carried out repeated inspections and even meetings with the petitioner calling upon the petitioner to adhere to the "Guidelines of dust mitigation measures in handling construction material and C&D Wastes".
He further argued that that it is only on the petitioner‟s non-compliance of the guidelines that the Impugned Direction was first passed.
However, when inquired by the court, the respondent admitted that no prior notice was issued to the petitioner with regards to Environmental Compensation.
Therefore, the court noted that the petitioner was not granted a pre-decisional or a post-decisional hearing on the levy of the Environmental Compensation by the respondent.
In light of the same, the court directed the respondent to consider the contents of the present petition as a representation of the petitioner against the levy of the Environmental Compensation.
Further, the court ordered the respondent to pass a speaking order after granting an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner. If such order is adverse to the petitioner, the petitioner shall be at liberty to challenge the same in accordance with law.
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