Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal has 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. SPCB Chiefs who have come under the axe belong to the States of Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Rajasthan, Telangana, Haryana, Maharashtra and Manipur.
The Bench comprising Mr. R.S. Rathore (Judicial Member) and Mr. S.S. Garbyal (Expert Member) noted that the States had failed to initiate steps, to implement the judgment passed by the Tribunal in August, 2016. In the said judgment, the Tribunal had rapped State Governments and Union Territories on appointment of Chairpersons of the State Pollution Control Boards without adhering to the rules laid down by it.
The Tribunal had further deprecated the concept of adhocism/temporary posting/stop gap arrangement, and had held that only duly qualified persons, with fixed tenure, are required to be appointed. It had, thereafter, directed them to fill such vacancies by appointing persons with requisite qualification within three months.
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.”
During the hearing, while analysing the replies filed by the Chairmen of various State Pollution Control Boards, the Court noted that they had not only tried to justify their appointments, but had also interpreted the relevant provisions of law to their advantage. It further noted that the Chairman of the Rajasthan SPCB has also been appointed as the Secretary, Mines and Geology, regardless of the fact that clearances for mines are to be approved by the SPCB itself.
The Bench, thereafter, rapped the States for having failed to comply with the Tribunal’s directions, and observed, “After having thoroughly and carefully considered the replies filed by the State Pollution Control Board of Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Rajasthan, Telangana, Haryana, Maharashtra & Manipur and also on perusal of their initial stand taken in the reply to the Original Application which were on similar lines, we are of the view that despite of ample time and opportunity having been given they have failed to comply/implement the judgment passed by the Tribunal.”
Besides, the 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. They were, however, warned that the Chairmen would cease to hold their posts in case of failure of these States to adhere to the timeline. The matter has now been put up on 4 July.