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Judiciary

'NGT must tread carefully to avoid oversight of propriety,' SC criticises unilateral decisions-making [Read Judgment]

By Jhanak Singh      08 February, 2024 07:35 PM      0 Comments
NGT must tread carefully to avoid oversight of propriety SC criticises unilateral decisions making

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has come down heavily upon the National Green Tribunal for its recurrent engagement in unilateral decision making without allowing the parties full opportunity to contest the matter, emphasising the need for infusing a renewed sense of procedural integrity for it.

A bench of Justices P S Narasimha and Aravind Kumar said, the NGT's recurrent engagement in unilateral decision making, provisioning ex post facto review hearing and routinely dismissing it has regrettably become a prevailing norm.

“It is imperative for the tribunal to infuse a renewed sense of procedural integrity, ensuring that its actions resonate with a harmonious balance between justice and due process. Only then can it reclaim its standing as a beacon of environmental protection, where well-intentioned endeavours are not simply washed away,” the bench said.

The court was hearing a challenge to two orders of the tribunal where it had slapped fine, in a suo motu proceedings for polluting the environment, without even giving it an opportunity to be heard.

"In its zealous quest for justice, the Tribunal must tread carefully to avoid the oversight of propriety. The practice of ex parte orders and the imposition of damages amounting to crores of rupees, have proven to be a counterproductive force in the broader mission of environmental safeguarding,” the bench said.

The court highlighted the NGT’s orders have consistently faced stays from the apex court, resulting in the unravelling of the commendable efforts put forth by the learned members, lawyers, and other stakeholders.

After perusing the details, the bench said it appeared that the appellants did not have a full opportunity to contest the matter and place all their defenses before the tribunal.

On filing of appeals, this court by order dated March 4, 2022, stayed the judgment and order passed by the Tribunal.

"This was inevitable. Two years have passed by and the stay is still operating. We have no other alternative except to set aside the orders dated August 31, 2021 and November 26, 2021 and remand the matter back to the Tribunal," the bench said.

The court asked the tribunal to issue notices to all the necessary parties, hear them in detail, and pass appropriate orders, uninfluenced by the observations and conclusions drawn in the previous orders.
 

[Read Judgment]



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