Env Ministry draws NGT flak for absence of counsel for 3 weeks

Published: 11th November 2013 04:54 PM  |   Last Updated: 11th November 2013 04:54 PM   |  A+A-


The National Green Tribunal today pulled up the Environment Ministry after its counsel failed to appear for three consecutive weeks leading to adjournment of many matters and warned that in future such conduct would result in passing of strictures against it.
"We definitely deprecate this attitude. You seem to be offended with tribunals, you better be careful about tribunals," a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said, expressing its displeasure.
After a senior official expressed "sincere regrets" for the lack of representation on behalf of the ministry, the NGT cautioned that the Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) will be directed to appear in person in case the conduct is repeated.
"This is the third week running that we have been adjourning matters (due to no MoEF counsel). Next time we will direct your Secretary to be present before us," it said.
The absence of the MoEF counsel was brought to the notice of the bench by the counsel appearing for the Odisha government during arguments on a plea challenging South Korean major Posco's Rs 51,000-crore mega steel project in Jagatsinghpur district of the state.
Unhappy over the absence of MoEF counsel, the bench directed that a Joint Secretary of the ministry be present before the tribunal at 2 PM.
While calling for the presence of the joint secretary, the bench also observed "Despite order of default of last week which was sent to the Secretary, MoEF, no one is present before us today. No one has the courtesy to appear before us".
At 2 PM, however, a joint secretary-level officer appeared before the NGT and apologised for the lack of representation on behalf of the ministry.
He also informed the bench that the MoEF has re-engaged the services of its earlier counsel, Neelam Rathore, who had been recently replaced by the ministry.
After the official expressed his "sincere regrets", the bench did not pass any stringent orders, but warned that in future this kind of conduct will result in passing of strictures against the ministry.


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