The Supreme Court has issued notice to Sterlite Industries (I) Ltd on the appeal filed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TPCB) challenging the order passed by the National Green Tribunal.
A bench comprising Justice Gyan Sudha Misra and Justice Madan B Lokur also said the expert committee shall file a report before the apex court and posted the matter to the second week of July.
Senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi and Subramaniam Prasad, appearing for the TNPCB told the bench that the respondent Sterlite Industries could not have moved the second appellate authority, i.e. the National Green Tribunal without moving the first appellate authority.
To this, senior counsel Ranjit Kumar and Pinaki Misra, appearing for Sterlite, said the matter was agitated initially in the Chennai Bench of the NGT and that one of the members had recused, which is is why, the matter went to NGT, Delhi.
To a query by Justice Misra as to what the name of the Appellate Authority is, Dwivedi replied that it is the State Appellate Authority. An order passed under Section 31 A of the Air Act is appealable before the Appellate Authority under Section 31 of the Air Act, he added.
If the First Appellate Authority is not in place, the remedy lies in moving the HC by way of a writ petition under Article 226. Now the appellate authority is constituted, Dwivedi said.
At this, Justice Misra said, “Now that the expert committee is constituted, let the committee report to the Appellate Authority. We are not saying anything on the merits of the matter.”
To this, Ranjit Kumar said, “The matter was argued for one month and the judgment is reserved.” To a question as to when the expert committee was constituted, the counsel replied that it was constituted on April 12.
Looking at Rakesh Dwivedi, Justice Misra remarked, “If it (Sterlite) has not commenced operations, what is your concern. “If your Lordships don’t pass an order, we’ve to allow them to operate,” replied Dwivedi.
It was on May 31 that the NGT had passed the interim order setting aside the TNPCB’s order directing Sterlite Industries to shut down its Thoothukudi unit.