Tamil Nadu

‘NGT Delhi Bench not superior to zonal ones’

CHENNAI, 11/04/2008: Madras High Court buildings in Chennai on April 11, 2008. Photo: V. Ganesan  

Observing that all five zonal Benches of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) are equally powerful and their orders are applicable across India, the Madras High Court disapproved of a 2017 Central notification, which terms the north zone Bench in Delhi as the Principal Bench.

Passing interim orders in a case, Justices N. Kirubakaran and T.V. Thamilselvi wrote, “Though in the notification dated August 10, 2017, the north zone Bench in Delhi is called the Principal Bench, it is prima facie contrary to the NGT Act, 2010, as the latter does not speak about any Principal Bench.”

Authoring the order, Justice Kirubakaran observed, “Vesting of power only with the Bench in Delhi is not contemplated anywhere in the statute, even though power is actually concentrated in Delhi.”

The orders were passed on a writ petition filed by environmental activist K. Saravanan of Chennai against a decision taken by the south zone Bench on June 15 to transfer his case to the Principal Bench in Delhi, since orders to be passed would have a pan-India effect.

Not in agreement with such a decision taken by the south zone Bench, the judges stayed the operation of the transfer order.

“The decision taken by any Bench of the NGT will have a pan-India effect, and it cannot be said that only if the issue is decided by Delhi, it will have a pan-India effect,” they said.

They said the country was divided into five zones — north, west, central, south and east — and one Bench of the NGT was established for each of them, with territorial jurisdiction over specified States, only for the convenience of litigants residing in the zones. “The jurisdiction of every Bench has been distinctly given, and it is only to enable citizens to approach the forum constituted in their zone and not to make them travel to Delhi, spending huge amounts of money, which is not possible for everyone for each and every issue,” the judges said.

They went on to add, “If such a procedure [of transferring cases to Delhi] is adopted, it will amount to denying access to justice as is being done in other matters.” Easy access to justice was the primary reason for establishing courts at the taluk level, and that was the reason even High Court Benches were being created in different parts of a State, the judges said.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 4:46:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/ngt-delhi-bench-not-superior-to-zonal-ones/article35244135.ece

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