New Delhi, May 19, 2022: Dismissing the petition challenging the the vires of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, the Supreme Court has held that the seat of the NGT benches can be located as per exigencies and it is not necessary to locate them in every State. The Top Court has also rejected the prayer for relocating the Bhopal NGT to Jabalpur and termed the plea as unmerited.
Observing that the remedy of direct appeal to the Supreme Court under Section 22 of the NGT Act is intra vires the Constitution of India, the Division Bench of Justice K.M.Joseph and Justice Hrishikesh Roy asserted “The National Green Tribunal under Section 14 & 22 of the NGT Act does not oust the High Courts jurisdiction under Article 226 & 227 as the same is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution.”
The petitioners who were espousing the cause of the Jabalpur based lawyers practicing before the High Court and the Civil Courts, contended that the Bhopal Bench of the NGT is located arbitrarily and the decision is inconsistent with the direction in S.P. Sampath Kumar vs. Union of India (1987) 1 SCC 12. Stressing on the çontenfion that the NGT can only play a supplemental or subservient role instead of being an effective and appropriate substitute for the High Courts, the petitioners also argued that due to incorporation of Section 14 and Section 22 in the NGT Act, the jurisdiction and the role of the High Courts under Article 226/227 is extinguished.
The Bench expressly mentioned that nothing contained in the NGT Act either impliedly or explicitly ousts the jurisdiction of the High Courts under Article 226 and 227 and the power of judicial review remains intact and unaffected by the NGT. As per the Top Court, 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 was seen to allow one NGT bench in every State.It was also clarified that that the low case load in the Bhopal Bench, did not match with the strident plea of the petitioners to locate the Bench at Jabalpur.
Emphasizing on the aspect that the Supreme Court itself had recommended the setting up of environmental court with direct appeals to the Supreme Court,the Bench supported the proposition on constitutional validity of Section 22 of the NGT Act and that it is not ultra vires to the Constitution.
The Bench also found that Section 3 of the NGT Act is not a case of excessive delegation of power to the Central Government.Thus, terming the writ petitions as meritless,the Bench dismissed the same.