19 Sep 2022 12:02 PM GMT
The Karnataka High Court has directed the Chairman of State's Pollution Control Board to hold necessary workshops to educate and train its officers as regards initiation of criminal proceedings under Air and Water(Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act. A single judge bench of Justice Suraj Govindaraj has asked the Chairman to take assistance of NLSIU's Environment Law Centre for...
The Karnataka High Court has directed the Chairman of State's Pollution Control Board to hold necessary workshops to educate and train its officers as regards initiation of criminal proceedings under Air and Water(Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act.
A single judge bench of Justice Suraj Govindaraj has asked the Chairman to take assistance of NLSIU's Environment Law Centre for this purpose. He is also directed to place on record the topics that could be covered in such workshops along with the material that would be distributed in the said workshops.
The bench gave the direction while allowing a petition filed by B.V. Byre Gowda, proprietor of M/S Chennakeshava Stone Crushers and quashed the case registered against him under Section 21 and 22 of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution Act) 1981 read with Section 37 of the Air Act.
The Deputy Environment Officer (DEO) had filed criminal proceedings against the petitioner under Section 200 of CrPC, following which, the trial court had taken cognizance of the matter back in 2015 and had issued summons to the accused.
The bench noted that Section 15 of the Air Act provides that the Board may, by general or special order, delegate to the Chairman such of its powers and functions under this Act as it may deem necessary. In the present matter, the application is made to the DEO and the AEO (Asst. Environment Officer).
Referring to the resolution issued by the Board in 2007 delegating powers to DEO, the bench said, "if at all any action is required to be taken by DEO and AEO, such action can be taken after getting prior approval of the Chairman for initiation of such criminal action."
Following which it said,
"A perusal of the Board resolution dated 13.02.2007 indicates that there is a condition and limitation imposed on the delegatee exercising powers under the resolution. In that without obtaining approval from the Chairman, no such proceedings could be initiated even though the delegate is otherwise or authorised to do so. Thus, I am of the considered opinion that the approval of the Chairman is not an administrative decision but is a condition precedent and/or limitation imposed by the Board on the delegatee exercising power under Section 15 of the AIR Act."
It added, "Section 43 of AIR Act requires that no Court shall take cognizance of any offence except on a complaint filed by the Board or any officer authorised in that behalf."
It then held, "I am of the considered opinion that in the situation as it stands in terms of resolution dated 13.02.2007, the DEOs and AEOs of regional office could initiate criminal proceedings against the defaulter subject to obtaining prior approval from the Chairman on a case to case basis. Without such approval of the Chairman, no such proceedings could be initiated."
Further the court held, "The said order of cognizance does not indicate any application of mind on part of the Magistrate as regards the complaint and the cognizance thereof."
Case Title: B.V. BYRE GOWDA v. STATE OF KARNATAKA
Case No: CRIMINAL PETITION NO. 8067 OF 2019
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 367
Date of Order: 2ND DAY OF SEPTEMBER, 2022
Appearance: SHASHI KIRAN SHETTY, SR. COUNSEL FOR KARTHIK.V, ADVOCATE for petitioner; GURURAJ JOSHI, ADVOCATE for respondent
Click Here To Read/Download Order