Environmental Law: The National Green Tribunal Bill
As of May 03, 2010, the Lok Sabha had passed the long-pending National Green Tribunal Bill, which according to the environment minister Jairam Ramesh, will hopefully be enforced by the end of the year. The bill provides for the establishment of specialized courts for trying cases related to the forest and environmental law.
The special tribunals will hear environmental cases, such as:
- Those affecting the community as a whole rather affecting one person or a group of persons.
- Causing major damage to the environment and property.
- Those harming public health and safety.
At present, there are approximately 5, 600 cases related to the environmental law pending in the courts.
Environmental Law: Key Amendments in the National Green Tribunal Bill
This bill was passed in the Lok Sabha only after some necessary reforms were incorporated by the environment minister Jairam Ramesh. Earlier, the bill had faced many objections from various political parties and other civil society groups.
Another amendment incorporated in the bill was modification of the criteria regarding those who can lodge a complaint with the tribunal. Earlier, the bill allowed only a representative association working in the field of environment to file a case. At present, any person aggrieved, which also includes any representative organization, can file a case and claim for relief from the tribunal. The environment ministry has also included the three founding principles, which include:
- The tribunals will adjudicate against a framework of precautionary measures.
- The liability to pay for any financial loss arising from an incident is put on the offender or the polluter.
- The tribunal shall put the liability on the person or the group of persons under inquiry, to prove that their act will not cause any damage to the public or environment.