The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Central Government to expedite the process of appointment of Judicial and Expert Members to the National Green Tribunal.
The order was passed by a bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna in a writ petition filed by the NGT Bar Association (Western Zone), aggrieved by delay in filling up the vacancies at the Tribunal.
Section 4 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 stipulates inter alia that the Tribunal shall consist of (a) a full time Chairperson; (b) not less than ten full time Judicial Members and (c) not less than ten full time Expert Members.
The Petitioners had informed the Top Court that as on July 23, 2020 there were 7 vacant posts of Judicial Members and 6 vacant posts of Expert Members in the Tribunal. Consequently, the working strength of the Tribunal had been reduced only to 7 Members.
The Government on the other hand submitted that process for appointment of Members was underway. An advertisement had already been published for filling up of 9 vacancies towards Judicial Members and the process of filling up of 6 vacant posts of Expert Members was also at an advance stage.
In view of this submission, the Court has requested the Selection Committee to "expedite the processes so that the applicant(s) will able to issue appointment letters to meet the piquant situation created due to reduced working strength of the Tribunal…"
The Bench cautioned that working of only seven Members is "opposed" to the mandate of Section 4 which prescribes that the minimum strength of the Tribunal at any given point of time should not be less than ten Members.
It also asked the Government to "speed up" the selection process for Judicial Members to keep up with the mandate of law which requires that the strength of Judicial Members and Expert members is "equivalent".
"Merely expediting the selection process for Expert Members alone may result in mismatch in the ratio between the two sources (Judicial Member and Expert Member)," the bench said.
The matter is now listed for hearing in September.
Case Title: NGT Bar Association (Western Zone) v. Union of India & Ors.
Case No.: WP(C) No. 1235/2017
Quorum: Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna
Appearance: Senior Advocate Raj Panjwani, AoR Kush Chaturvedi and Advocates Saurabh Kulkarni and Priyashree (for Petitioners); ASG N. Venkataraman, AsOR Gurmeet Singh Makker, Santosh Krishnan and Anando Mukherjee and Advocates Shradha Deshmukh, Seema Bengani and Abhishekh Atrey (for Respondents)
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