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High Court urged not to refer all green cases to tribunal


Even as the demand for setting up a Bench of the National Green Tribunal with filing facility in the State is mounting, Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court Manjula Chellur has been urged not to refer all environment-related cases to the tribunal.

The demand has been raised in the context of the High Court Green Bench headed by the Chief Justice referring all such cases to the Green Tribunal following a Supreme Court directive. It has been pointed out that even for local environmental issues, litigants now have to travel to New Delhi or Chennai for redressing their grievances.

Babu Paul, president, Kerala High Court Advocates’ Association, said litigants found it difficult to travel to New Delhi to file a petition before the tribunal. He said the association had urged the Chief Justice not to transfer all environment-related cases to the tribunal till the Supreme Court took a call on the issue.

He pointed out that the National Green Tribunal Act provided only for adjudicating civil cases involving substantial environmental issues.

The High Court need not transfer public interest cases filed under writ jurisdiction of Section 226 of the Constitution.

The association would soon file a review petition before the Supreme Court, he said. In the meantime, the association has urged the Chief Justice to keep cases pending till it filed a review petition and sought a clarification from the Supreme Court.

Environmentalist S. Sitaraman also supported the demand for setting up a Tribunal Bench in the State. He said it would be easier for environmental activists to approach the tribunal and conduct cases if a Bench started functioning in the State.

He pointed out that the State had a plethora of environmental problems.

Lawyer A.X. Varghese, who was the prime mover of the Kerala High Court resolution for a Tribunal Bench said around 70 public interest writ petitions involving environmental issues were pending before the High Court.

It had been decided to refer all such cases to the tribunal in a phased manner. He said the resolution had sought to declare per incurium the Supreme Court directive to refer all environment-related cases to the High Courts. According to him, it had been decided to refer at least five cases every week to the tribunal.

Mr. Varghese said litigants in environment-related cases could ill-afford to travel to New Delhi or Chennai to conduct their cases before the tribunal. The litigants hailed mostly from marginalised communities such as tribals.




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