Can’t afford to be a mute spectator: Supreme Court upholds suo motu energy for National Green Tribunal

Ruling that the “National Green Tribunal (NGT) is vested with suo motu power in discharge of its functions under the NGT Act”, the Supreme Court on Thursday mentioned the Tribunal, “with the distinct role envisaged for it, can hardly afford to remain a mute spectator when no one knocks on its door”.

Deciding a batch of appeals on suo motu jurisdiction of the NGT, a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy and C T Ravikumar identified that the SC had dominated that the precise to a wholesome atmosphere is a part of the precise to life beneath Article 21 of the Constitution of India and recognised that NGT is ready up beneath the Constitutional mandate to implement Article 21 with respect to the atmosphere.

The courtroom rejected the argument that NGT is a Tribunal and a creature of statute and as such, can’t act by itself movement or train the ability of judicial assessment or act suo motu in discharge of its capabilities.

Justice Hrishikesh Roy, writing for the bench, mentioned this “duty to safeguard Article 21 rights cannot stand on a narrow compass of interpretation” and “procedural provisions must be allowed to fall in step with the substantive rights that are invoked in the environmental domain, in larger public interest”.

“To be effective in its domain, we need to ascribe to the NGT a public responsibility to initiate action when required, to protect the substantive right of a clean environment and the procedural law should not be obstructive in its application,” mentioned the SC.

The NGT, mentioned the judgment, was conceived as a complimentary specialised discussion board to cope with all environmental multi-disciplinary points hitherto handled by the High Courts and SC, “and it would be appropriate thus to assume that similar power to initiate suo motu proceedings should also be available with” it.

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