THE NATIONAL GREEN TRIBUNAL ACT, 2010

Introduction
National Green Tribunal is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to
handle environmental disputes involving multidisciplinary issues. The Tribunal shall not
be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be
guided by principles of natural justice. The Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in
environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the
burden of litigation in the higher Courts.


History
India is a party to the decisions taken at the United Nations Conference on the Human
Environment held at Stockholm in June, 1972, in which India participated, calling upon the
States to take appropriate steps for the protection and improvement of the human
environment. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held at
Rio de Janeiro in June, 1992, in which India participated, has also called upon the States to
provide effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and
remedy, and to develop National laws regarding liability and compensation for the victims
of pollution and other environmental damage. The right to healthy environment has been
construed as a part of the right to life under article 21 of the Constitution in the judicial
pronouncement in India.


The National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995 was enacted to provide for strict liability for
damages arising out of any accident occurring while handling any hazardous substance and
for the establishment of a National Environment Tribunal for effective and expeditious
disposal of cases arising from such accident, with a view to giving relief and compensation
for damages to persons, property and the environment. However, the National
Environment Tribunal, which had a very limited mandate, was not established.

The National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997 was enacted to establish the National
Environment Appellate Authority to hear appeals with respect to restriction of areas in
which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries, operations or processes
shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards under the
Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The National Environment Appellate Authority has a
limited workload because of the narrow scope of its jurisdiction. The Central Government
has enacted the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 thereby repealing National
Environment Tribunal Act, 1995 and National Environment Appellate Authority Act,
1997.

Environment
Section 2(c) defines “environment” to includes water air and land and the interrelationship, which exists among and between water, air and land and human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro- organism and property.


Hazardous substance
Section 2(f) defines “hazardous substance” as to means any substance or preparation which is defined as hazardous substance in the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, and exceeding such quantity as specified or may be specified by the Central Government under the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991.

Substantial question relating to environment
According to clause (m) of Section 2 the term “substantial question relating to
environment” shall include an instance where,-
(i) there is a direct violation of a specific statutory environmental obligation by a person by
which,-
a. the community at large other than an individual or group of individuals is affected
or likely to be affected by the environmental consequences; or
b. the gravity of damage to the environment or property is substantial; or
c. the damage to public health is broadly measurable;
(ii) the environmental consequences relate to a specific activity or a point source of
pollution.

Relief, Compensation and Reconstitution
Sub-section (1) of section 15 empower the Tribunal, by an order, to provide,-
(a) relief and compensation to the victims of pollution and other environmental damage
arising under the enactments specified in the Schedule I(including accident occurring while
handling any hazardous substance);
(b) for restitution of property damaged;
(c) for restitution-of the environment for such area or areas, as the Tribunal may think fit.
Sub-section (2) prescribes that the relief and compensation and restitution of property and
environment referred to in clauses (a), (b) and (c) of sub-section (1) shall be in addition to
the relief paid or payable under the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991.
No application for grant of any compensation or relief or restitution of property or
environment shall be entertained by the Tribunal unless it is made within a period of five
years from the date on which the cause for such compensation or relief first arose.
However the Tribunal may, if it is satisfied that the applicant was prevented by sufficient
cause from filing the application within the said period, allow it to be filed within a further
period not exceeding sixty days.

The Tribunal may, having regard to the damage to public health, property and
environment, divide the compensation or relief payable under separate heads specified in
Schedule II so as to provide compensation or relief to the claimants and for restitution of
the damaged property or environment, as it may think fit. Every claimant of the
compensation or relief under the Act shall intimate to the Tribunal about the application
filed to or as the case may be, compensation received from, any other court or authority.

Liability to pay relief or compensation
Section 17 provides that where death of, or injury to, any person (other than a workman)
or, damage to any property or environment has resulted from an accident or the adverse
impact of an activity or operation or process, under any enactment specified in Schedule I,
the person responsible shall be liable to pay such relief or compensation for such death,
injury or damage, under all or any of the heads specified in Schedule II, as may be
determined by the Tribunal.

If the death, injury or damage caused by an accident or the adverse impact of an activity or
operation or process under any enactment specified in Schedule I cannot be attributed to
any single activity or operation or process but is the combined or resultant effect of several
such activities, operations and processes, the Tribunal may, apportion the liability for relief
or compensation amongst those responsible for such activities, operations and processes on
an equitable basis. The Tribunal shall, in case of an accident, apply the principle of no
fault.

Procedure and Powers of Tribunal
Sub-section (1) of Section 19 prescribes that, the Tribunal shall not be bound by the
procedure laid down in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 but shall be guided by the
principles of natural justice. The Tribunal has been empowered to regulate its own
procedure and also not bound by the rules of evidence contained in the Indian Evidence
Act, 1872.

Under Sub-section (4), the Tribunal, for the purpose of discharging its functions, has been
entrusted with the same powers as are vested in a Civil Court under the Code of Civil
Procedure, 1908, while trying a suit, in respect of the following matters namely:
(a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath;
(b) requiring the discovery and production of documents;
(c) receiving evidence on affidavits;
(d) subject to the provisions of section 123 and 124 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872,
requisitioning any public record or document or copy of such record or document from any
office;
(e) issuing summons for the examination of witnesses or documents;
(f) reviewing its decisions;
(g) dismissing a representation for default or deciding it ex-parte;
(h) setting aside any order or dismissal of any representation for default or any order
passed by it ex parte;
(i) pass an order requiring any person to cease and desist from committing or causing any
violation of any enactment specified in Schedule l;
(j) any other matter which is required to be, or may be prescribed by the Central
Government.

Sub section (5) provides that all proceedings before the Tribunal shall be deemed to be the
judicial proceedings within the meaning of sections 193,219 and 228 for the purposes of
section 196 of the Indian Penal Code and the Tribunal shall be deemed to be a civil court
for the purposes of section 195 and Chapter XXVI of the Code of Criminal Procedure,
1973.

Penalty
Section 26 provides that whoever, fails to comply with any order or award or decision of
the Tribunal, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three
years, or with fine which may extend to ten crore rupees, or with both and in case the
failure or contravention continues, with additional fine which may extend to twenty-five
thousand rupees for every day during which such failure or contravention continues after
conviction for the first such failure or contravention.

Offence by Companies
Where an offence has been committed by the company and it is proved that the offence has
been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the
part of, any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such director,
manager, secretary or other officer shall also be deemed to be guilty of that offence and
shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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