NEW DELHI: The change in rules enabling even a single member bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to discharge judicial function has come under the scanner of the Supreme Court.
The NGT Bar Association has moved the apex court challenging the validity of the National Green Tribunal (Practices and Procedures) Amendment Rules, 2017 that allows even a single member bench to perform judicial function.
Earlier, the rules mandated that the NGT benches must have two members to hear and decide cases, the bar body said.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud has agreed to hear on January 29 the plea of the bar body challenging the amended rules.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the NGT Bar Association, alleged the change in rules was unconstitutional and deserved to be struck down.
The functioning of the green panel, which is being headed by Acting Chairperson Justice U D Salvi after Justice Swatanter Kumar demitted office on December 19, last year, has been hampered at its head and zonal benches due to nonappointment to the posts which have fallen vacant in recent past.
The pendency of pleas, which challenge the constitutional validity of the Finance Act 2017 and the rules under it to regulate issue like appointment and tenure of members of tribunals, in the top court has not helped the cause of addressing the shortage of judicial and non-judicial members in NGT either.
Earlier, the top court had asked the Centre and other stakeholders to sit together and formulate an "interim arrangement" to deal with appointments to be made in various tribunals including the NGT.
The court had said that though it would deal with the constitutional validity of the Finance Act and the rules at a later stage, the issue of vacancies in tribunals have to be addressed on an urgent basis as the panels have to be "manned".