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Role Of Statutory Bodies Viz. National Green Tribunal, Pollution Control Boards In Environmental Regulation

Statutory bodies are an organisation of government which are not mentioned in the constitution and derived its powers from the act of the parliament or legislature. It deals with a specific subject. National green tribunal result of an act of parliament of India i.e. National Green Tribunal Act 2010 and established on 18.10.2010 for speedy and effective disposal of cases related to environment. In the same line Pollution Control Board is also established under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974. It is divided into central board and state board. They both play a huge role in enforcing rules to safeguard the environment and for sustainable development.

Section 1 will define the statutory body, NGT, PCBs and its history. Section 2 will deal with environmental protection during ancient and medieval period. Section 3 will discuss the idea of NGT and PCBs and why it was needed. Section 4 will focus on the important judgement of NGTs and rules by the PCBs. Section 5 will discuss its role in environmental regulations and its effect. Section 6 contains the conclusion.

“Time spent among trees is never time wasted” this quote is depicting the role of environment in human life. In present era the statutory bodies are playing important roles in preventing and preserving the environment.

Section 1
An organisation which has authority, power to check the activities perform by another organisation.

It is established by an act of parliament. The purpose of the establishment of the statutory bodies is to analyze the data and make judgement in some arena of activity. In fact it is an organisation of government which is not mentioned or defined in the constitution of India. The parliament is not so broad so that it can deal each and every issue or can make laws in every field. So it constitutes some statutory bodies to tackle the matter or to make the rules and regulations related to any technical field because some fields need specialized and technical knowledge.

And so NGT and PCBs were constituted which needs specialised knowledge related to environment and various pollution and can be deal by the persons who have good knowledge of it.

National Green Tribunal

When burden on the courts started increasing and case related to environmental issues started increasing in the courts, the legislature passed an act to establish the NGT i.e. National Green Tribunal Act 2010 on 18.10.2018 to reduce the burden of litigation on higher courts. The purpose of NGT Act 2010 is to speedy and effective disposal of cases related to environment protection and conservation of forest and other natural resources.

It runs on the principle of “Polluters Pays”. Polluters Pays principle says that who produces pollution should bear the cost of the managing it to prevent damage to human health or the environment. It has drew inspiration from the article 21 of the constitution of India which says “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.”[1]

Power Of National Green Tribunal

The NGT has power to hear all civil matters which are related to environment, questions regarding the enforcement and implementations of laws which fall under seven categories of laws namely:
  1. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;
  2. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977;
  3. The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
  4. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
  5. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
  6. The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991;
  7. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002
NGT is a statutory body so it has power to regulate the procedure by itself. It also follows the principles of natural justice and sustainable development. It will have same power s of the civil court in deciding the matter falling within these seven legal acts.[2] Even the NGT will not be bound by the rules of evidence act.[3]NGT can not entertain every matter related to the

environment and this is its major drawback. For instance NGT cannot admit a suit for cutting of trees in a forest even though it is related to environment[4] because protection of forest act is not within the jurisdiction of NGT. It has a strong order enforcing mechanism and if the orders of NGT are not followed than it has power to impose fine as well as punishment. This act provides various types of relief and injunction.

If a person is not satisfied with the judgement of NGT, he/she can seek the review of the decision of NGT under article 22 of the NGT rule even then if he is not satisfied can appeal in the Supreme Court of India within 90 days of the order passed by the NGT.

Composition Of National Green Tribunal

NGT consists of minimum 10 members and not more than 20 members. This will be in accordance with notification of central government. The members are mix of environmentalist and judges. Every bench shall consist of at least one judge and at least one environmentalist. If a deadlock arises, the final decision would be of chairperson.

To become the chairperson of NGT, one should have been judge in SC or chief justice of any High Court and to be qualified for judicial member the person should have been judge of the High Court. To be qualified as an expert member of the tribunal, a person shall posses a degree of master of sciences weather physical or life sciences with a doctorate degree or master of technology or master of engineering having 15 years of experience in that field with a 5 years experience of environment and forests.[5]

Structure Of National Green Tribunal

According to NGT Act 2010, New Delhi is principle bench of the NGT with regional benches in Pune (Western Zone Bench), Bhopal (Central Zone Bench), Chennai (Southern Bench) and Kolkata (Eastern Bench). Each bench has limited and specified geographical jurisdiction in several states in a region.

Pollution Control Boards

Cental Pollution Control Board is also a statutory organisation and it was constituted in September, 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. It was constituted at centre level as Central pollution Control Board and at state level as State Pollution Control Board. Further, CPCBs was entrusted with the powers and functions undr the Air (Prevention and Control Pollution) Act, 1981.

Principal function of the CPCB, as spelt out in the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, (i) to promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States by prevention, control and abatement of water pollution, and (ii) to improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country.[6]

It provides the technical support to the Ministry of Environment and forest. It has an automatic monitoring station at ITO New Delhi. Central Pollution Control Board also provide background air quality data needed for industrial sitting and towns planning. The main objective was to provide for the prevention and control of water pollution the maintaining or restoring of wholesomeness of water.

Just like CPCB, SPCBs have similar functions to be executed at state level and are governed by the directions of Central Pollution Control Board.

Section 2

India is a unique sub-continent with vast cultures and various geographical, tropical variations with different types of seasons and community. And if we see the history we can trace that environmental protection is not the wake of current era but it is happening before 5000 years from Ancient time.

Environmental Protection During Ancient Time

In the Hindu theology forest, trees, rivers, mountains have a unique place and have high respect. We can also observe the important place of trees, forest and rivers in Purans and Upnishads.
The Rig Veda emphasised the importance of nature in controlling the climate and how it has improved the human life.

Atharva Veda considered trees as abode of various gods and goddess[7] and cutting of tress means disrespecting the gods and goddess.

Yajur Veda emphasized that relationship with nature and animals should not be that of dominion and subjugation but of mutual respect and kindness.[8] If we go through the Yajnavalkya Smriti we can observe that there was penalty for cutting trees. Hindu society was very serious about the adverse effect of environment caused by deforestation.

In Mauryan period there were perspective legal provisions for environmental protection and it can be observed in Kautilya's Arthshatra. There was specific administration and various punishments were prescribed for cutting trees, damaging forest and killing animals.

Environmental Protection During Medieval India

Environmental protection is not a new concept in India. It can be traced also in medieval periods through law or customs.

During Moghul period , different kinds of flower and plants were planted outside central and provincial headquarters , at public places, on the bank of the rivers.

Though the Moghul emperor were great nature lovers but there were no specific laws to protect forest and rivers. For them forest was just a source of woods. Still there were some trees on which people had restriction because it was supposed to be Royal Trees.

Environmental Protection During British Rule

Early days of British rule in India were days of plunder of natural resources. They used the natural resources as much as they can without thinking about the future needs and adverse effects on the climate. When the British government understand the importance the British Governor started exercising control over forests in the year 1806 and a commission was appointed to enquire into the availability of teek in Malabar and Travancore.

But the beginning of the organized forest management to conserve forest started in 1864 when they appointed first Inspector General of forest and the task of forest department under the Inspector General was that of exploration of resources, demarcation of reserves, protection of forest etc.

The Indian Forest Act 1865 passed by Supreme Council in England and it was amended in 1878. The provisions of this Act established a virtual state monopoly over the forest in a legal sense on one hand and attempted to establish, on the other, the customary use of forest by the villagers as not a right, but a privilege that could be withdrawn at will.[9] The Indian Easements Act, 1882, the Indian Fisheries Act, 1897, the Bombay Smoke Nuisance Act, 1912, and the Bengal Smoke Nuisance Act, 1905, was other enactments that dealt with different aspects of environment.

But the purpose of Britishers was never to safeguard the environment. They were doing everything and implementing laws to run their business in safe mode and to complete their needs.

Section 3

Origin of the idea of establishing environmental courts in India
The Supreme Court of India suggested that there should be environmental courts on regional basis with professional judges and 2 experts keeping in mind the kind of expertise needed to deal with such issues.[10] This was emphasized many a times by the Supreme Court that there is need of such a tribunal which can deal only matters regarding environment so that the burden on higher courts can be reduced and people seek justice as soon as possible.

The courts were facing a lot of problems while dealing with the cases related to environment because they did not have expertise panel of environment. The demand of a specific tribunal increased after Bhopal Gas Tragedy where people hardly get justification.

As a result of a dire need of speedy justice The National Green Tribunal founded. It was a result of long procedure and the demand for such tribunal started long back in the year 1984 after the Bhopal gas tragedy. Then the Supreme Court specifically mentioned the need for such tribunals in the case where the gas leaked from Shriram food and fertilizers limited in Delhi.

The Supreme Court than in a number of cases highlighted the difficulty faced by judges in adjudicating on complex environmental cases and laid emphasis on the need to set up a specialized environmental court. Though the credit for enacting the NGT Act, 2010 goes to the then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, it became functional only because of repeated directions of the Supreme Court while hearing the Special Leave Petition titled Union of India v. Vimal Bhai.[11]

Origin of the idea of establishing PCBs in India

After the Stockholm conference in June 1972, it was considered that there was a need of uniform law all over the country to tackle the v\broad environmental problems which is damaging the health of our people as well as flora and fauna.

In the wake if this conference, Indian parliament enacted The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 under Article 252 of the Constitution provided for the establishment of Pollution Control Boards in the Centre and at the State levels. This is also the first specific and comprehensive legislation institutionalizing simultaneously the regulatory agencies for controlling water pollution.

The Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards are result of this act. According to the Art 5 A (g) of the constitution of India, it is the fundamental duties of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including Forest, Lakes, Rivers and Wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures. The main objective of Water Act to prevent the water pollution in India.

Pollution means contamination of water or such alteration of the Physical, Chemical or Biological properties of water or such discharge of any sewage or trade effluent or of any other liquid, gas and solid substances into water as may be the case or is likely to create nuisance or render such water harmful or injurious to public health or safety or to domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural or other legitimate uses, or to the life and health of animals or plant or of aquatic organizations.

To control this trade effluent and other wastes which is contaminating the water by making some rules and regulations and proper checking the application of it the PCBs are established.

Section 4

From the date of establishment NGT and PCBs are serving their purpose. Recently NGT directed German auto major Volkswagen to deposit Rs 100 crore with Central Pollution Control Board by saying that Volkswagen is causing serious environmental damage by using a cheat device that lowered vehicular emissions only during tests.

Within the short span of 7 years, the Tribunal has given some landmark judgments that changed the course of environmental law and environmental protection in India.

Almitra H. Patel & Ors. vs. Union of India and Ors.[12]
In this case, Mrs. Almitra Patel and another had filed a PIL under Article 32 of the Constitution of India before the Apex Court whereby the Petitioner sought the immediate and urgent improvement in the practices that are presently adopted for the way Municipal Solid Waste or garbage is treated in India. The tribunal found that the matter is very serious because all over the country lakhs of tonnes of raw garbage dumped every day and there is no proper treatment of the same.

The tribunal directed every state and UT to implement the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 immediately and prepare an action plan in terms of the Rules within 4 weeks. And also directed Central, State government and people to follow their duties under this rule without any dealy. And the important judgement of the tribunal in this case was the tribunal directed a complete prohibition on open burning of waste on lands, including at landfills.

Ms. Betty C. Alvares vs. The State of Goa and Ors.[13]
A complaint regarding various instances of illegal construction in the Coastal Regulation Zone of Candolim, Goa was made by a personal of foreign nationality. Her name was Betta Alvarez. Before the case could be decided on merits the maintainability of the main application was challenged on two grounds. First, Betty Alvarez had no locus standi in the matter because she was not an Indian and so can not take benefits of Art 21 of the Constitution of India. Second, the matter was barred by the law of limitation and should be dismissed.

The Tribunal held that Section 2(j) of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 the very act by which the Tribunal has come into being. Interpreting this Section, the Tribunal found that the word 'person' deserves to be construed in a broad sense to include an individual, whether a national or a person who is not an Indian citizen. The Court noted that going into the details of Betty's nationality is not required.The Court laid down in very bold terms that once it is found that any person can file a proceeding related to the environmental dispute, Ms. Betty's application is maintainable without regards to the question of her nationality.

If we focus on the PCBs, it was established with the objective to make rules and regulations and to enforce it to safeguard the water and the environment and to maintain the wholesomeness of the water. There is a very famous case in which SPCB intervene to fulfil its objective.

A.P. Pollution Control Board v M.V Nayadu[14]
According to the Pollution Control Board, under the notification No. J.20011/15/88-iA, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India dated 27.9.1988, vegetable oils including solved extracted oils were listed in the RED hazardous category. On 31.3.1994, the Municipal Administration and Urban Development, Government of Andhra Pradesh prohibited various types of development within 10 km radius of two lakes, Himayat Sagar and Osman Sagar, in order to monitor the quality of water in these reservoirs which supplied water to the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

In January 1995, the respondent company was incorporated as public limited company with the object of setting up an industry for production of B.S.S. Castor oil derivatives and purchased 12 acres of land in Peddashpur village. The AP Pollution Control Board rejected the application because it was falling under the radius of 10 km and the industry was a polluting industry.

The court said that cases like this needs expertise panel to check and give the judgement so it Supreme Court referred the case to the Appellate Authority under the National Environmental Appellate Authority Act, 1997 because at that time NGT was not established.

The court, therefore, referred the above issues to the above-said Appellate Authority for its opinion and requested the Authority to give its opinion, as far as possible, within a period of three months from the date of receipt of this order.

Section 5

NGT is working mainly for environmental justice and helping in handling the situation related to right to good health of the citizens which came under the fundamental right of citizen under article 21 of our constitution. Main reason behind the success of NGT is this because it is follows the principle of NATURAL JUSTICE so that it is more faster in the decision making than Indian judiciary system because they are following the code of civil procedure.

More efficient and quick decision making helps in maintaining good environment condition which is very good for health specially the children and old age persons. It is helping in saving the money and time of the people so that they can invest in productive way. It is empowering the citizen of country related to environment issues and decreasing the environment degrading problem due participation of community at large scale.

Till now NGT has given several judgements, imposed penalty, issued injunction and these all has provided and is providing great support to safeguard the environment and the health of the people too. People who are facing problems can seek help of NGT if the matter is related to the environment.

This Separate Environmental Court made people accounting for their acts that cause damage to nature.

Recent instances of Penalizing Art of Living of 4.5 crore for polluting Food plains on Yamuna River bank, Banning Diesel Vehicles of older than 10 years in Kerala, No construction zone of 75 meters in Bangalore, cancellation of clearance of Coal blocks in Chattisgarh forest, Imposing fine on burning waste in Open, highlighting Bellandur lake pollution shows that the Tribunal is meeting its demand.

These kinds of Institutions are necessary for a democratic society. Only because of these institutions we can achieve Paris Climate Summit Goal of limiting the increase in temperature of global Warming below 2 degree. These all speedy actions of NGT are serving the purpose of its establishment.

The purposes of the establishment of the CPCBs are various works like:

  1. Legal/Statutory

    • Performing functions as per Section 16 of Water and Air Acts (a set of 16 functions)
    • Issue directions to SPCBs under Section 18; and can take over functions of any SPCB in a given area for a specified time
    • Issuance of directions (directly) to industries under Section 5 of EPA; and • Co-ordinating role under Rules (framed under EPA)
  2. Advisory

    • To Central Govt. and to judiciary (as per Directions) on matters pertaining to abatement of pollution.
    • Co-ordination under Bilateral/ multilateral agreements
  3. Research and Development

    • R&D on thrust areas (Research Committee/ Linkages with R&D institution)
    • Advanced laboratory at Head Office and regular AQC for SPCBs and EPA Labs / Proficiency test

The purposes of the establishment of the SPCBs are various works like:
  1. Advisory functions
    The State Pollution Control Board is to advise the state government on any matter concerning the prevention, control or abatement of water pollution.
  2. Dissemination of Information
    The State Pollution Control Board is to collect and disseminate information relating to water pollution and the prevention, control or abatement thereof.
  3. Investigation and research
    The State Pollution Control Board is to encourage, conduct and participate in investigation and research relating to problems of water pollution and prevention, control or abatement of water pollution etc.
It has power to tale sample of water from any well, river or from trade effluents for analysis. By this means they check the quality of water and direct the further steps to maintain the wholesomeness of water.

In the case of Delhi Bottling Co. Pvt. Ltd. v. Central Board for the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution,[15] a sample of trade effluent was taken by the board from bottling company's discharge stream and after analysis was found not conforming the requirements of the consent order granted to company.

The board filed a suit under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and accordingly an injunction was issued by the court requiring the company to establish a treatment plant which the bottling company challenged. The Court held that the sample was not taken in strict compliance with procedure as under Section 21 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and this evidence cannot be regarded as admissible.

Section 6

NGT and PCBs plays a huge role in environmental regulation. Though NGT is facing a lots of challenges. It has lack of infrastructure and because of it the body is pronouncing its judgment in slow manner. The number of environmental cases has been on the rise but due to lack of benches and infrastructure, the body is unable to pronounce its judgment on time.

The NGT is working and pronouncing its judgment brilliantly on the cases related to environmental issues and challenges. The government should make it more autonomous and efficient in a view to the growing concern regarding the environment and climate change.

Also PCBs has faced a lot of problems and still facing a lots of challenges because of the lack of the infrastructure and lack of the financial support. In a matter CPCB was failed to answer a very relevant question. The Central Pollution Control Board doesn't provide any data or explanation of whether, and why, the current methodology failed in correctly identifying polluted areas.[16]

However, India is doing well when it comes to the environmental or climate change issue as compared to other developed and developing countries of the world.

  1. Art 21, Constitution of India
  2. Citizens welfare forum v. union of India(1996) 5 SCC 647
  3. Section 19(3), national green tribunal act, 2010
  4., last accessed 19/1/2019 at AM10.38
  5. Section 5, national green tribunal act, 2010
  7., last accessed 19/1/2019 at PM 11.27
  8., last accessed 19/1/2019 at PM 11.27
  9. last accessed 19.1.2019 at PM 10.0
  10. 186Th Report on Proposal to Constitute Environment Courts.
  11. SLP (civil) No(s). 12065/2009
  12. MANU/GT/0150/2016
  13. Misc Application No. 32/2014(WZ)
  14. last accessed 20/1/2019 at PM 5.22
  15. AIR 1986 Delhi 152
  16. last accessed 21.1.2019 at AM 1.47

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