No expert member on NGT southern bench
By SV Krishna Chaitanya | Express News Service | Published: 20th June 2017 04:11 AM |
CHENNAI: Functioning of the National Green Tribunal’s southern bench is crippled due to non-appointment of expert member and the Centre’s delay in constituting a dedicated bench to hear the Loss of Ecology Authority cases.
As per the NGT Act, 2010, the bench should have two members (judicial and expert) while pronouncing judgments. However, at the southern bench, the court-2 now has only judicial member MS Nambiar, who can’t independently hear cases, which is adding to pendency.
This is set to worsen in the coming days as more members are set to retire in all NGT zones in less than a year.
“I will complete my five-year tenure by October 26, which means another vacancy will be created. Not just southern bench, several members are due for retirement in other zones as well. By March next year, except for 4-5 members, all others will be demitting office,” Justice P Jyothimani, a judicial member of the southern bench, told the Express.
The Centre had initiated the process of appointing three judicial and expert members for all NGT zones. “I think the applications are being processed,” added Justice Jyothimani.
Briefly, expert member PS Rao has tried sitting in both the courts alongside Justice P Jyothimani and MS Nambiar in pre-noon and post-noon. But this soon became unsustainable for all, as all including the staff had to work late hours. The arrangement was later suspended.
Jyothimani said the Centre was yet to form the dedicated bench to hear the long pending cases filed by farmers in the Noyyal and Amaravathi River basins seeking compensation for the pollution caused by the bleaching and dyeing industries. These are cases from the now-defunct Loss of Ecology Authority (LoEA) that were transferred by Madras High Court to NGT.
Restored Kalas Mahal to house tribunal from July
After a prolonged delay, the southern bench of NGT will finally shift to the historic Kalas Mahal by July end. Judicial member Justice P Jyothimani told Express that the Chief Justice of India would be invited to do the honours. “I will be in New Delhi for sitting in the vacation bench this month end. We will finalise the dignitaries for the inaugural ceremony, which is scheduled in the third week of July,” he said. It took five long years for the restoration of 248-year-old Kalas Mahal, a portion of which was ravaged in a fire in 2012. The heritage structure was once part of the Chepauk Palace. The current building at Arumbakkam on Poonamallee High Road, rented out to the tribunal by Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), lacks basic amenities and is very far from Madras High Court causing inconvenience to advocates. Jyothimani said Kalas Mahal, being closer to the High Court, would bring relief to the advocates.