January 4, 2018
Dola Sen speaks on the issue of vacancy for the position of Chairperson of National Green Tribunal
Sir, Justice Swatanter Kumar retired as the Chairperson of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on December 19, 2017.
Several important disputes are currently sub-judice before the Tribunal. Chief among these are:
- a plea against alleged illegal mining of minerals in Saharanpur and the Yamuna riverbed
- a matter on the issue of crop burning
- a plea raising the issue of worsening air quality in Delhi
- a matter about the alleged encroachment in the Agar-Bellandur wetlands.
All of these matters have wide implications and require urgent hearing. These issues are only indicative of the varied disputes that the NGT hears and deliberates on.
Sir, Section 6 of the National Green Tribunal Act gives the responsibility to the Central Government to appoint the Chairperson in consultation with the Chief Justice. So far the government has only named an Acting Chairperson. In the absence of a Chairperson, the Tribunal would not be well-equipped to function effectively.
This is not the first instance of delay in naming the Chairperson of a Tribunal. Justice Sirpurkar, who was the Chairperson of the Competition Appellate Tribunal, had retired on August 21, 2014. His replacement, Justice Singhvi was named on October 2 after a 6 week gap. Our tribunal system can function effectively only if the government is proactive in naming replacements.
The government was fully aware that this vacancy would arise on December 19. They were also aware of the several important matters currently sub judice before the NGT. Justice Kumar’s replacement should have been named in advance.
Therefore, I would urge the government to announce the new Chairperson of the NGT.