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Supreme Court Reserves Decision In Petition To Move Regional Bench Of NGT From Bhopal To Jabalpur

Zeeshan Thomas
6 April 2022 5:12 AM GMT
Supreme Court Reserves Decision In Petition To Move Regional Bench Of NGT From Bhopal To Jabalpur
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday, reserved its decision in a petition challenging 'various anomalies' arising out of implementation of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. The Petitioners have also sought for directions of the Court to move the regional bench of NGT from Bhopal to Jabalpur. The bench comprising of Justice K.M. Joseph and Justice Hrishikesh Roy has further directed that...

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, reserved its decision in a petition challenging 'various anomalies' arising out of implementation of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. The Petitioners have also sought for directions of the Court to move the regional bench of NGT from Bhopal to Jabalpur.

The bench comprising of Justice K.M. Joseph and Justice Hrishikesh Roy has further directed that the parties may file their written submissions in five days.

The Petition is filed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court Advocates Bar Association along with District Bar Association, District Jabalpur through their Secretary and President, respectively.

The Petitioners' specific challenge is to setting up a Bench of NGT at Bhopal and also constitutional validity of Sections 14/22 of the NGT Act. They have argued that the constitution of Benches of NGT has been done in an arbitrary manner, disregarding the law laid down and directions of the Court in Sampat Kumar vs. Union of India, wherein it was observed that for ensuring the efficacy and efficiency of any tribunal, its permanent seat should be at a place where the principal seat or bench of High Court is situated.

Another constitutional infirmity in the provisions of NGT Act, according to the Petitioners, relates to Section 14 r/w Section 22 of the Act, through which the jurisdiction and role of High Courts under Articles 226/227 has been excluded, which as has been held by the Court in L. Chandra Kumar case [and subsequent decisions], to be unconstitutional. It has further been argued that the Jurisdiction of High Courts, being a fundamentally basic feature of the Constitution, cannot be excluded by way of any legislation, not even a constitutional amendment. Therefore, the Petitioners are asserting that the provisions of Section 14 r/w 22 of the Act are liable to be struck down to the extent that they divest the High Court of their original constitutional powers under Article 226/227 of the Constitution of India.

The Petitioners have also submitted that at the relevant time before decision to finalize Bhopal for a regional Bench of NGT, they had given a detailed representation to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, which was never considered. They referred to the decision of the Court in Union of India vs. Vimal Bhal, wherein it had issued elaborate directions for time bound creation of Infrastructure and other facilities for various benches of NGT, including Bhopal. The Petitioners have asserted that there is already existing infrastructure at Jabalpur and hence it is a fit case where the Court could consider directing the Union of India to set up the Bench of NGT at Jabalpur instead of Bhopal.

The MOEF in its reply has submitted that there is no bar on jurisdiction of the High Court in entertaining writ petition under Article 226/227 for judicial review on other issues not covered under Section 2(m) and Section 14 of the Act. They referred to the decision in Minerva Mill's case to point out the observation of the Court that effective alterative institutional mechanisms or arrangements for judicial review can always be made by the Parliament.

With regards to setting up the regional bench of the NGT at Jabalpur, the Ministry has submitted that if it is felt necessary to establish a bench at any other place, the Central Government shall accordingly take a view. However, in accordance with the provisions of subsection 4(b) of Section 4 of the NGT Act, the Rules have been framed by the Central Government providing procedure for hearing application, appeals and other matters by the Circuit procedure at a place other than the the ordinary place of sitting, falling within the jurisdiction of the NGT. The Ministry has asserted that the said provision is totally in consonance with the observations of Court in Sampath Kumar case(s). With this, the Ministry has concluded that the argument of the Petitioners for setting up NGT's Bench at places of the seats of the High Courts is totally ill-conceived.

Case Title: MP High Court Adv. Bar Assocn. & Anr. Versus Union Of India Ministry Of Environment And Forests Through The Secretary & Anr.

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