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Powers and functions of National Green Tribunal


The need to always protect the environment and wildlife of a country is something which is always constant. In order to make sure that the environment of India is safeguarded including the forest and wildlife of the country, the Indian government has always looked for a better way to do so which led to the creation of the National Green Tribunal in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. The statutory tribunal was created by the Central government with the main purpose of taking care of environmental issues and providing solutions to them.

Composition of the National Green Tribunal

The National tribunal was created to meet the needs of preserving the environment of India and was suppose to be made up of people who can take charge and ensure that the purpose of the tribunal was met. The composition of the National Green Tribunal shall consist of:

  • A full-time chairperson
  • At least 10 members and a maximum of 20 members
  • Experienced judges and expert members on environmental issues.
  • If there’s any deadlock, that is if there was an event of any tie between the number of the judges both against and in favor of a decision to be put in place, the final decision will depend on the chairperson who will make the decision and put an end to the deadlock.
  • Every bench of the tribunal is to be made up of one member that is a judicial member and an expert member.
  • The Chairperson has the right to invite one or more persons who are experienced or specialized in any area of the case for their assistance before a Tribunal if deemed necessary or required.
  • The Central Government has the right to decide on notification special places or ordinary places for the tribunal to be fitted. And also the territorial jurisdiction which falls under each such place of sitting.
  • The Central Government can consult with the chairperson of the tribunal to make new rules which regulate the general practices and procedure of the Tribunal which may  include:
    • The rules of the person who is capable of appearing before the Tribunal.
    • rules which may relate to the transferring of cases by the chairperson from one place of sitting, to another place of sitting. Could include an ordinary place of sitting.
    • Decide on the number of members who can hear the applications and appeals in respect of any class or classes of applications and appeals in case the number of the expert members hearing the application of appeal will be equal to the number of Judicial Members hearing such application or appeal. 
    • Rules on the procedure of hearing an appeal and other matters which pertains to the application and appeals.
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Powers of the National Green Tribunal

The tribunal has several powers which include,

  • Regulating the procedure by itself without having to follow the principles of the civil procedure code. It follows the principle of natural justice rather.
  • To apply the principle of sustainable development at the time of giving orders. Also, it is to apply the rule that anyone who is found polluting will have to pay.
  • The NGT will not be limited by the rules of evidence which is mentioned in the Indian evidence act. 
  • All the proceedings before the Tribunal shall be accorded to the judicial proceedings within the meaning of the sections 193, 219 and 228 for the purposes of section 196 of the Indian Penal Code.
  • The tribunal shall be allowed to be a civil court for the purposes of section 195 and Chapter XXVI of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973.

Criticism of the National Green Tribunal

The National Green Tribunal has currently come under critics for the handling of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s World Culture Festival on the floodplains of Yamuna. In recent years the decisions made by the National Green Tribunal has been challenged by various High courts n India under Article 226. Other High courts even entertain appeals against the NGT orders and have made it clear that the High court has more powers than the NGT as it is only a statutory organ. In general, the National Green Tribunal doesn’t seem to have any power over their decisions as they can easily be overturned by the High court if deemed necessary. This makes their effectiveness to be questionable as it can’t be imposed if the High court thinks otherwise

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The National Green Tribunal was created with the best of intentions so the Indian environment and natural resources are preserved. The question here is how effective will it be if its decisions can always be overturned if the High court thinks otherwise.

For more query related to National Green Tribunal, please contact the team of experts at Enterslice.

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