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National Green Tribunal

The Parliament of India on 5th may 2010, enacted the National Tribunal Act for setting up of an exceptional tribunal to look after the cases relating to environmental issues with speed and efficiency, this Act was passed on the ground of Article 21, protection of life and liberty under part 3 of the Indian Constitution, which ensures the right to healthy environment to the Indian citizens.

The need for passing the National Green Tribunal Act in India comes into existence due to the several circumstances and in the distinctive period, the apex court of India noted that in the cases such as environmental issue, it involves assessment of scientific data, by looking at the cases such as MC Mehta vs. Union of India (AIR 1987, SC 965) and A.P pollution control board vs. professor M.V Nayadu ( 1922 2SCC 718).

The law commission of India on its 186th report in the year 2003 suggested the need of setting up of environmental courts in India, this suggestion was due to the science and technological difference regarding environmental issue which is inadequate under Judicial knowledge. National Environment appellate authority which comes under the Ministry of Environment and forest ministry was replaced by NGT according to the national tribunal act, 2010.

Authorities Under National Green Tribunal

Authorities can be broken down into 3 parts
  • Chairperson:
    Central government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India will appoint the chairperson, usually chairperson will be the present or retired judge of Supreme Court and on the other hand he must be serving as the Chief Justice of High court of the any state. Current chair person is HON'BLE MR. Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel.
  • Judicial Members:
    Judicial members will be appointed by the selection committee setup by central government. Judicial members to be selected must be present or retired high court judge. The present Judicial members are:
    1. Justice Sonam Phintso Wangdi
    2. Justice K. Ramakrishnan
    3. Justice S.K Singh.

  • Expert members:
    expert members must hold PhD in science with environment experience or masters in engineering and technology. Selection committee setup by the central government will select the expert members. Current expert members are:
    1. Dr.S.S. Garbayal
    2. Dr.Nagin Nanda
    3. Mr.Saibal Dasgupta.[1]


Salient Features Of Authorities

  1. General term is of 5 years for all the authorities
  2. The chairperson cannot be reappointed after completing of his term.
  3. Chairperson will be having a lot of power and control related to financial and administrative powers.
  4. The authorities of NGT will be having a cooling off period once they retire after completing their 5 year term; they can�t be working as a board member or cannot be appointed for a period of 2 years, in order to remove the misconception among people.
  5. The NGT authorities should not hold 2 or more offices at the same time, for example being a chairperson on NGT and also acting as a member of anti-pollution board or anti-corruption board together in the same meanwhile.
  6. Removal of authorities:
    • Removal will be done in the way of retirement after the insolvent of 5 years
    • Due to offence of moral turpitudes, the removal will take place.
    • It may be due to the physical or mental incapability.
    • Financial conflict or other interest which may affect his function.
    • Abused his position at the interest of public due to illegal functioning, done in the favor of wrongdoer for their own benefits.

Power And Jurisdiction

When it comes to Jurisdiction of NGT, the tribunal holds jurisdiction over the cases of civil including substantial question which involves a direct violation of statutory environmental obligation in which large community is affected, substantial damage to environment and property, damage to public health and such questions which arises out of the implementation of the enactments specified in the Schedule 1.

NGT being a statutory body similar to the court, also has appellate jurisdiction to hear appeal as tribunal, The NGT has its own procedure regarding the handling of the issue based on the principle of natural Justice, the principle of polluter pays, the precautionary principle and principle of sustainable procedure will be considered while passing any decision, order or award and not on the basis of procedure laid down under the Civil Procedure Code or Criminal Procedure Code.

Shorita(2015) broke down the cases that are adjudicated by the NGT into several parts such as aggrieved persons/ NGO�s appeal relating non-compliance rules, applications against polluters seeking enforcement and legitimacy of conditions by implementing enforcements, requesting compensation from original applications, appeals against implementing authorities by industries against the decision, original application within the limits of the NGT act by aggrieved person.

NGT�s order/award/decision is executable as a decree of civil, The NGT�s order can only be challenged in the Supreme Court of India, no other have jurisdiction against the order of the schedule 1 of the enactment, The NGT has the jurisdiction over all the different circumstances and cases such as:
  • The water act of 1974, which deals with prevention and control of pollution in water
  • The water cess act of 1977 which sets the rules and procedure against the control of pollution and maintenance of clean water.
  • The forest act of 1980 which concerns about the conservation of forest.
  • The Aiir Pollution Prevention and Control Act,1981
  • The Environment Act, 1986 which deals about the protection and conservation of the environment.
  • The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
  • The public Liability Insurance Act, 1991.[2]

The NGT has the power to deal with any violation regarding the above mentioned laws and decision taken by the government under the same laws. The NGT has a power, which is limited and tribunal can be called as a quasi-judicial body, it is way different from normal courts, the NGT have the jurisdiction to the only mentioned laws but other courts have the capability to deal with all types of cases, The main reason to establish the NGT is to lessen the over burden on the casual courts.

There are mainly 5 benches, each bench having their separate jurisdiction for the functioning of the tribunal. The principal bench is located in Delhi and other four benches are created on the different parts of the country, based on the zones such as:
  • Southern zone which is located in Chennai.
  • Western zone which is in Pune.
  • Eastern zone in Kolkata.
  • And lastly Central zone which is located in Bhopal

The NGT constituted circuit benches to convene in places, like holding southern zone bench in Bengaluru or Hyderabad rather than in Chennai. When it comes to other zones, there can be circuit in Shimla, Shillong and Jodhpur.

NGT doesn�t follow the Crpc and its decision is based on the principal of natural Justice, the tribunal by an order can provide:
  1. Settlement and reward to the victims who faced the pollution and other environmental damage which may include the hazardous substance being leaked or did harm to the nature by accident and carelessness.
  2. Restoration and replacement of belongings and assets which are damaged.
  3. Remuneration of the surrounding environment of the areas which faced the harm.

The NGT has also come up with the process for penalty for contempt of it and not following the same which includes:
  • Imprisonment for period as long as 3 years
  • Penalty in the form of fine up to 3crore rupees.
  • In certain circumstances it may include both of fine and imprisonment.[3]
Over the period the tribunal has developed as precarious performer in environment guideline, passing firm orders on subjects stretching from deforestation to pollution to waste management.

Land Mark Judgments Of National Green Tribunal

  1. When POSCO in the year 2012, which is among the world�s largest steel maker, signed memorandum of understanding with the government of Odisha to set up 12 million tones capacity steel project in Jagatsinghpur district. When the villagers, started protesting against the 52000crores which would directly lead to acquiring of 4004 acres, The NGT entered and suspended the Order, this was considered as a radical step in favor of villagers and surrounding environment
  2. In the case of Almitra H. patel vs. Union of India 2012, this is about the issue regarding solid waste management in India; NGT in this case played a crucial role by stepping and putting an end to burning of wastes on open ground, including landfills. It may be called as an landmark order regarding the control of pollution.
  3. In 2003, Alakanda Hydro power Co Ltd was ordered to pay Rupees 9.26 crores in the period of Uttarakhand flood to the victims in the states Srinagar city within 30 days, the NGT by rejecting contention that Uttarakhand floods were not an �act of god�, the company was directed to deposit amount with environmental relief authority based on the principle of pollution pays.
  4. The NGT also played an important role by banning all diesel vehicles plying on Delhi roads which are over 10 years old.
  5. The NGT in the other issue, due to causing damage to the Yamuna floodplains, held Sri Sri ravishankars art of living by holding cultural festival in 2016. The Bench imposed a penalty of rupees 5crores in the form of a compensation.
  6. In the year 2017, The tribunal imposed in Delhi on use of non-biodegradable plastic bags which are less than 50 microns and also decided to fine rupees 5000 who ever found selling or using of such non-biodegradable plastic.
  7. In the recent judgment, The NGT has penalized the state of UP for causing damage to the environment by letting flow of contaminated untreated sewage water containing toxic substance such as chromium directly into river Ganga.

National Green Tribunal has its own challenges, being a statutory body various decisions by NGT are being challenged in the High Court's, since there is a lack of clarity on the decision that can be challenged, the other such challenges faced by the NGT is the absence of formula based mechanism to determine the compensation.

The most important challenge by the NGT is that Wild Life Protection Act 1972 and schedule tribes and other traditional forest dwellers (recognition of forest rights) act 2006 are excluded from the Jurisdiction of National Green Tribunal thus in a way National Green Tribunal have their own advantages and disadvantages, if all these challenges are met then the functioning of the NGT�s could be enacted.

  1. National Green Tribunal, 13, 2020)
  2. Rengarajan, S., Palaniyappan, D., Ramachandran, P. et al. National Green Tribunal of India�an observation from environmental judgements. (mar.23,2017),
  3. Drishti IAS, national green tribunal, (dec.11,2018),

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