Supreme Court rules NGT has powers to take suo moto cognizance on environmental issues

Team SoOLEGAL 7 Oct 2021 3:15pm

Supreme Court rules NGT has powers to take suo moto cognizance on environmental issues

New Delhi: The Supreme Court declared on Thursday that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has the authority to take suo motu cognizance of environmental matters based on letters, representations, and media reports, and to commence proceedings on its own.

A bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy, and C.T. Ravikumar handed down the decision on a series of petitions questioning the NGT's suo motu jurisdiction.

Sanjay Parikh, a senior advocate, contended that because the NGT has been given the authority to issue orders for environmental restitution, it can act on its own. However, a slew of senior lawyers argued that only constitutional courts can exercise suo motu powers, and that a statutory tribunal like the NGT must operate within the constraints of its parent statute.

The Centre's Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati argued that the NGT does not have the authority to take cognizance of a matter on its own. She did, however, contend that procedural limits cannot restrict the tribunal's authority.

She said, “This is a peculiar tribunal dealing with environmental matters. Often, environment ends up being nobody's baby".

The bench had questioned her if the tribunal will be obligated to commence proceedings if it received information related to the environment. The ASG answered that once the tribunal receives a letter or communication, it is within its competence to take cognizance of it.

The bench had deferred its decision on the matter as of September 8. The NGT cannot exercise suo motu powers based on letters, representations, or media reports, according to senior advocate Arvind Grover, amicus curiae in the case.

Tagged: Supreme Court   NGT   environmental issues   suo moto   National Green Tribunal   Justice A.M. Khanwilkar   Justice Hrishikesh Roy   Justice C.T. Ravikumar  
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