By LE Desk

Chennai, April 9: Madras High Court on Friday stayed the appointment of Girija Vaidyanathan, former Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary, as an expert member in the Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). 

The first bench of the High Court restrained Vaidyanathan from assuming charge while passing interim orders on a case filed by environmental activist G Sundarrajan who contended that the retired bureaucrat did not have requisite expertise on issues related to environment.  

“We are not happy with the qualification,” the bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy observed, while staying her appointment till the disposal of the writ petition, the Deccan Herald reported. 

Vaidyanathan, who served as Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu from December 2016 to June 2019, was to assume charge as expert member of the NGT at its Southern Bench in Chennai on April 19.  Poovulagin Nanbargal, an NGO fighting on issues related to the environment headed by Sundarrajan, approached the High Court in December, 2020 seeking to quash the appointment of Vaidyanathan on the grounds that she was not qualified to hold the post. 

In its writ petition, the NGO alleged that Vaidyanathan’s appointment clearly violated the guidelines that say anyone appointed to the post should have five years experience in the field of environment or should have been associated with related organisations. 

The NGO also said Section 5 of the NGT Act clearly stipulates administrative experience of 15 years, including experience of five years in dealing with environmental matter either in the central or state governments or in a reputed institute.

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