NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today stayed the operation of a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order for the demolition of ponds renovated by an NGO in the Braj area of Uttar Pradesh's pilgrimage town Govardhan.
A vacation bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and M M Shantanagoudar considered the appeal of the NGO, Braj Foundation, and stayed the NGT order on demolition.
Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the NGO, said an order issued in public interest cannot be "an anti-public order".
"The highest allegation against me (NGO) is that I did not follow the procedure while undertaking the renovation work of the ponds," he said.
Now the NGT has ordered the demolition of these renovated ponds which is against the public interest, he added.
"This is the wrong way of doing the right thing," Singhvi said, seeking a stay on the NGT order.
The NGT has passed several orders on a petition alleging that renovation work has been done without following due procedure in the Govardhan area.
The NGO has challenged the NGT's May 24 order which had junked its plea to continue the work and had stated that the renovation project be taken up by the government.
No "private individual, organisation, NGO or any other body" should undertake the work of preservation and restoration of water bodies, the tribunal had said.
The NGO had on May 30 moved the apex court against the NGT order dismissing its plea to continue pond renovation works in the Braj area of Govardhan.
The NGT order had come on the plea filed by the NGO, seeking clarification on an August 4, 2015 order that declared the entire "Parikrama Marg" a no-construction zone to avoid any encroachment and asked the civic bodies to construct a sewerage system along the holy area.
Due to the NGT order, local authorities stayed the restoration work being undertaken by the foundation at Sankarshan Kund in Anyor and Rudra Kund in Jatipura, the NGO said.
The plea in the top court said the tribunal had "grievously erred" in its order and denied it the opportunity to place documents on record related to the case.
It said "the NGT has exceeded its jurisdiction and adjudicated a matter that falls within the jurisdiction of the appropriate civil court".
According to the NGO, by holding that the Giriraj Parikrama Development project should be taken up by the government and no other private body, the tribunal imposed an "arbitrary restraint" on the constitutional powers of the gram panchayat, which had given it the permission to carry out the renovation work.
The green panel had earlier ordered the Mathura district magistrate to conduct an inquiry into how two former village heads awarded pond renovation works without following legal procedures in Govardhan.
It had said neither any meeting nor any resolution was passed to renovate the Sankarshan Kund in Anyor and Rudra Kund in Jatipura.
The tribunal's order had come on a plea filed by Mathura-based Giriraj Parikrama Sanrakshan Sansthan and others seeking compliance of the August 4, 2015 directions of the NGT.
The organisation had raised the issue of civic authorities discharging sewage and municipal waste into the ponds and other water bodies in Govardhan.