On 16th January 2015 the Supreme Court has granted 6 months to the Centre for appointing National Regulator for appraising projects, enforcing environmental conditions for approval and imposing penalties on polluters.
The three judge bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu and comprising of Justices Arun Kumar Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goel allowed the of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) that some more time be given for appointing the regulator as some states have reservations on the issue.
The bench further pointed out Centre had taken had taken several adjournments after it had asked the MoEF in 2011 to appoint the national regulator.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the MoEF said, "We cannot be blamed. The stand of the previous government was that there was no need of the regulator...The idea is not to play the hide and seek”. After this argument the court granted 6 more months to the MOEF and said no further time would be given.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, who is an amicus curiae in the matter, said that till the time a law is put in place, the regulator can be appointed in terms of the court's order.
Last year on 6th January the court had directed the UPA-II government to appoint the national regulator to oversee the implementation of forest policy and rejected the its plea that there was no need for such a body.
The bench clarified that the MoEF would grant the clearances under the Forest Act but the regulator would see the implementation of the Forest Policy of 1998.Further, the Court said that the National Regulator would now directly handle Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2006 under every project.
In 2013, the Centre had informed the court that there was no need for setting up of a green regulator to oversee matters related to environmental clearances and had pleaded for modification of its order for setting up such a body.
However the center said they should set up an authority to monitor and facilitate implementation of the National Forest Policy, 1998.