Tribunal on trial
It has been four years since the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act was passed by Parliament for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests, and also for giving compensation to the victims o
Icorridors of the Ministry of N THE Environment, Forests and Climate Change (moef & cc), growing frustration is evident against ngt. In hushed tones, officials speak about the tribunal’s clamour to get more powers and perks. They call it a “power-hungry institution ”that has failed the purpose for which it was created. They talk about unrealistic judgements given by ngt to the ministry and other government departments. They also cite the backlog of cases in ngt as another reason for the institution’s failure to address environmental matters.
In the four years since it was formed, much has transpired between ngt and moef&cc.ngt has,in many cases, reprimanded the ministry for being absent during hearings.For a month-and-a-half,at the end of 2013, no counsel from moef&cc appeared before ngt. The body fined a few officials from the ministry and went to the extent of cautioning its secretary that he would be compelled to pay heavy costs for cases adjourned without any justification.
The ministry has repeatedly contended that ngt has been overstepping its jurisdiction.In fact,in an affidavit filed before Supreme Court,moef&cc’s deputy secretary during the previous regime labelled ngt’s conduct an “embarrassment” to the government in Parliament.The affidavit drew heavy criticism from Supreme Court, which termed it as “nonsense”. The then Solicitor General, Mohan Parasaran,later disowned the affidavit.
Lately, there have been many media reports talking about a likely amendment of the ngt Act, by which the institution was formed,to possibly put a “check”on its powers.