`NGT must have suo motu pow­ers'

Down to Earth - - COVER STORY - For­full­textgo­towww.down­toearth.org.in

Jus­tice Swatan­ter Kumar has been chair­ing the Na­tional Green Tri­bunal (NGT) for nearly two years now. In an in­ter­view to Down ToEarth, he speaks about some ba­sic is­sues con­fronting the tri­bunal How far do you think NGT has suc­ceeded in ful­fill­ing its man­date of pro­vid­ing speedy jus­tice? NGT has con­trib­uted con­sid­er­ably to the man­date of speedy jus­tice in re­solv­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal dis­putes. Our tar­get is to dis­pose of cases within six months, and NGT has been suc­cess­ful in achiev­ing this tar­get in most cases. The Ster­lite case and Megha­laya rat hole min­ing cases are two ex­am­ples. NGT has re­it­er­ated that Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment, Forests and Cli­mate Change (MoEF&CC) is a mere fund­ing body for it. Do you think that MoEF&CC is try­ing to cre­ate hur­dles in the work­ing of NGT? No. Over a pe­riod of time, MoEF&CC has re­alised that NGT needs to grow. There has been a sub­stan­tial leap in the fund­ing di­rected to NGT. It has in­creased man­i­fold from ` 8 crore to ` 34 crore. The Madras High Court re­strained NGT from ex­er­cis­ing suo motu ju­ris­dic­tion. What do you think about it? Suo motu ju­ris­dic­tion has to be an in­te­gral fea­ture of NGT for bet­ter and ef­fec­tive func­tion­ing of the in­sti­tu­tion. In the Con­sti­tu­tion of In­dia, the high courts also have not been ex­clu­sively con­ferred suo motu ju­ris­dic­tion. How­ever, the high courts have been ex­er­cis­ing the same. There are some in­her­ent pow­ers which are vi­tal for ef­fec­tive func­tion­ing and suo motu ju­ris­dic­tion is one such power.

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