Can the National Green Court (NGT) be expected to wait for someone to bring a claim before it when immediate action needs to be taken on an environmental issue, the court said today supreme by considering whether the green sign has the power to take suo motu knowledge of a case.
The highest court, which has reserved its verdict on the matter, said the court must also exercise the power to deliver restorative justice.
“Can NGT be expected to wait for a third party trigger when the action required is immediate action. So, can there be a situation of self-knowledge instead of suo motu? can be filed late, ”said a bench led by Judge AM Khanwilkar.
“What needs to be done today, they will have to do after two days, which could cause further deterioration,” said the judiciary, also made up of judges Hrishikesh Roy and CT Ravikumar.
Senior lawyer Sanjay Parikh, representing one of the candidates, said the idea is to protect the environment and not let it deteriorate.
He said if the court is clear on what happened and the factual position is absolutely clear, then the question is why someone should allow the environment to deteriorate further.
Senior lawyer Gopal Sankaranarayanan, who has also argued on the matter, referred to a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which highlighted the adverse effects of global warming.
He said that in such a situation where the world is suffering because of climate change, an expert body dealing with environmental issues should not be prevented from exercising its powers, waiting for people to approach it diligently.
The bench, while reserving its verdict on whether the NGT has the power to take cognizance of a case suo motu, said that the parties may file their written submissions, if necessary, within a period of one week.
The highest court said on Tuesday that NGT is an “umbrella authority” created to ensure that the relevant authorities under respective laws work in tandem for the protection and cause of the environment.
On September 2, the Center told the highest court that NGT did not have the power to take cognizance of a case on its own because it was not in the law.
The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change told the judiciary that procedural aspects cannot bind the powers and jurisdiction of the “particular” tribunal that has been set up to deal with environmental issues.
“We respectfully maintain that the suo motu power is not there. However, stretching it to the point that any letter, request, etc. had declared the ministry to the highest court.
The bench has heard a batch of petitions in which the question of whether the NGT has the power to take cognizance of a case suo motu has arisen.
In one of these cases, NGT had previously learned suo motu of the issue of solid waste management in Maharashtra and imposed a cost of Rs 5 crore on the municipal company.