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"Low Case Load": Supreme Court Dismisses Plea To Establish NGT Benches In Every State

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
18 May 2022 1:02 PM GMT
Low Case Load: Supreme Court Dismisses Plea To Establish NGT Benches In Every State
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In its judgment upholding constitutionality of Section 3 of the National Green Tribunal Act 2010, the Supreme Court also observed that the seat of the NGT benches can be located as per exigencies and it is not necessary to locate them in every State.

If the NGT Benches are set up in all 28 States and 8 union territories as is suggested, the judges and other members in these forums might be left twiddling their thumbs, the bench of Justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy observed.

The writ petitioners, the Madhya Pradesh High Court Advocates Bar Association and the District Bar Association, raised a challenge to the vires of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. They also sought a direction to set up the Bench of National Green Tribunal at all the places where the principal seat of High Court is situated. They also contended that the proposed setting up of Bench of NGT at Bhopal is not constitutionally and/or sustainable.

One of the issues raised by them was framed as follows: Whether a seat of the NGT should be in every State? If yes, should they invariably be established at the principal seat of High Court, which in this case would be Jabalpur instead of Bhopal?

The petition relied on an observation made in S.P. Sampath Kumar vs. Union of India that for ensuring the efficacy and efficiency of any Tribunal, its seat should be at a place where the principal seat of the High Court is situated.

Referring to statistics, the bench noted that the volume of cases handled by the NGT and the CAT are not comparable. The court observed:

Looking at the large volume of service-related cases, it was suggested that the Benches of the CAT should be located at the seat of each High Court. But such logic cannot apply to the NGT, where the zone wise pendency in aggregate is only 2237 cases as on 31.3.2022 from the date of its inception. Therefore, the ratio in S.P. Sampath [supra] does not aid the petitioners who want the NGT Bench to be relocated from Bhopal to Jabalpur, where the Madhya Pradesh High Court is located...
With the low case load, if the NGT Benches are set up in all 28 States and 8 union territories as is suggested by the petitioners, the judges and other members in these forums might be left twiddling their thumbs. Accordingly, no basis is seen to allow one NGT bench in every State.

The court also rejected the contention that the seat of the NGT must be at Jabalpur where the principal seat of the Madhya Pradesh High Court is located

"The location of the Bench to the extent possible, should be convenient and accessible to litigants of all three States. Here the respondents project that Bhopal is centrally located in relation to Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, & Chhattisgarh. Moreover, Bhopal being the capital of Madhya Pradesh, is well connected and accessible without much difficulty. This would commend to us that Bhopal is a sound locational choice for the NGT which caters to the litigants from three States.", the court said.

Case details

Madhya Pradesh High Court Advocates Bar Association vs Union of India | 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 495 | WP(C) 433 OF 2012 | 18 May 2022

Coram: Justices KM Joseph Hrishikesh Roy

Click Here To Read/Download Judgment

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