CHENNAI: The Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which lost quorum after retirement of expert member PS Rao on November 21, is back to life, thanks to the latest notification from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), which empowers the NGT chairperson to constitute single-member benches.
The notification was gazetted on December 1. The NGT bench in Chennai currently has only one judicial member MS Nambiar and he retires in January.
The Centre has amended the NGT (Practices and Procedure) Amendment Rules, 2011 to allow the chairperson to constitute a single-member bench, given exceptional circumstances. However, the notification doesn’t define what the exceptional circumstances are.
However, environmentalists and senior advocates are opposing the notification, saying the Centre, instead of filling the vacancies, is tinkering with the NGT Act. “The NGT is an expert tribunal dealing with specialised cases. The role of an expert member in the bench is crucial. The government is systematically killing the institution,” said Ritwik Dutta, noted environmental advocate from Delhi.