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SC to decide if NGT has power to take cognisance of issues on its own

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New Delhi, Jul 12:  The Supreme Court Friday agreed to examine a legal question whether the National Green Tribunal (NGT), established in 2010 to deal with cases pertaining to environmental issues, has the power to take cognisance of a matter on its own.

A bench of Justices S A Bobde and B R Gavai said it would decide the issue when the question regarding NGT’s power to take suo motu (on its own) cognisance was raised before it.

Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, appearing in the matter, told the bench that NGT does not have the power to take suo motu cognisance.

“Has the issue of suo motu power (of NGT) been decided?,” the bench asked, adding, “A tribunal dealing with issues of environmental degradation should have the power to take suo motu cognisance”.

Nadkarni told the court that only constitutional courts — the Supreme Court and High Courts — have the power to take suo motu cognisance and a tribunal cannot exercise this power.

“NGT did not have the jurisdiction to take suo motu cognisance. Where is the power of suo motu in the NGT Act? There is no power of suo motu,” he said, adding that NGT can act or decide a matter only if it is filed before the tribunal by someone.

During the hearing, the bench observed, “There should be power of suo motu with the environmental tribunal. We would like to hear this issue.”

The bench appointed senior advocate Anand Grover as an amicus curiae to assist it in the matter and posted it for hearing on August 6.

Nadkarni was appearing in a matter in which the NGT had taken suo motu cognisance on the issue pertaining to solid waste management in Maharashtra and imposed cost of Rs 5 crore on the municipal corporation.

He told the bench that Bombay High Court was already monitoring the issue of solid waste management in Maharashtra and the NGT should not have taken suo motu cognisance in the matter.

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