National Green Tribunal

From Justice Definitions Project

1. What is National Green Tribunal ?

A. Establishment

The National Green Tribunal (NGT)[1], established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act, serves as a specialized judicial body dedicated to adjudicating environmental cases in India. Formed in response to recommendations from the Supreme Court, the Law Commission[2] , and international obligations, the NGT aims to address multi-disciplinary environmental issues effectively. With New Delhi as its principal location and additional sittings in Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata, and Chennai, the NGT is mandated to provide swift and effective remedies, including compensation and damages, for cases related to environmental protection and conservation. The Tribunal, inspired by decisions at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development[3], endeavors to dispose of applications or appeals within six months of filing[4], aligning with the principles of Agenda 21[5], for establishing legal redress procedures in matters affecting the environment and development.

B. Source Legislation

The NGT Act was enacted to provide for the establishment of the National Green Tribunal for the effective and expeditious disposal of cases related to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources. It received presidential assent in June 2010 and was enforced on October 18, 2010, through a Central Government notification.[6] The NGT Act replaced the National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995, and the National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997, thereby consolidating and strengthening the legal framework for environmental adjudication in the country.

C. Scope of Adjudication

NGT is a tribunal[7] body which to handle cases related to environmental protection and conservation. It is responsible for hearing and deciding on matters related to environmental laws and regulations in India. disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues.[8] The act also defines and outlines the conditions under which a "substantial question relating to environment" arises, providing specific criteria related to statutory violations, community impact, gravity of damage, and measurable damage to public health. The context of this passage would likely be within a legal framework dealing with environmental protection and regulation.[9] The tribunal also holds powers to adjudicate civil cases related to environmental issues, granting relief and compensation for violations. This includes ordering restitution, restoration, and compensation for environmental damage. The NGT can impose penalties, including fines, on individuals or entities responsible for violations, and it has the authority to order the restitution of property affected by environmental degradation.[10] Additionally, the NGT can issue orders for preventive and remedial actions to address environmental issues promptly. The Tribunal's dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts. The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavor for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.[11] The NGT is not bound by the civil procedure code and the Indian Evidence act, the NGT can evolve its own procedure and has powers of civil court.[12]

The main function of the NGT is to that, any person seeking relief and compensation for environmental damage involving subjects in the legislations mentioned in Schedule I of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 may approach the Tribunal.

Statues in Schedule 1:
  1. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;
  2. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977;
  3. The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
  4. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
  5. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
  6. The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991;
  7. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

2. Historical Evolution

1. National Environment Tribunal Act and  The National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997 (now repealed):

In 1995, the Central Government instituted the National Environment Tribunal under the National Environment Tribunal Act, focusing on strict liability for damage caused by accidents involving hazardous substances. Subsequently, in 2011, the Ministry of Environment and Forests established the National Green Tribunal (NGT), spurred by Supreme Court directives. Although the NGT Act received presidential assent in June 2010, it was enforced in October of the same year through a Central Government notification[6]. This act led to the automatic repeal of the National Environment Tribunal Act 1995 and the National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997[13], resulting in the closure of the National Environment Appellate Authority. The NGT, conceived as part of a reformist approach to environmental governance[14], was proposed during the debate on the Green Tribunal Bill in 2009[15], with the aim of addressing the inadequacies of existing laws and incorporating scientific and technical expertise into environmental decision-making.[16]

2. 186th Law Commission Report (2003):

The Law Commission of India's recommendation for environmental courts in its 186th Report in 2003 contributed to the establishment of the NGT, which became operational after the enactment of the National Green Tribunal Act in June 2010.

The Law Commission of India's 186th Report in 2003 recommended the establishment of environmental courts in response to challenges faced by regular courts in handling complex scientific and technical aspects of environmental matters. The report emphasized the need for a specialized court with a broad right of appeal, extending not only to applicants but also to third parties involved in resource-consent decisions. This inclusive approach aimed to engage diverse stakeholders in environmental decision-making. The genesis of this recommendation was influenced by Supreme Court judgments proposing a "multi-faceted" Environmental Court. The 186th Report recognized the judiciary's role in shaping this reform, advocating for a court equipped with expertise to effectively address environmental disputes and integrate scientific perspectives. The subsequent establishment of the National Green Tribunal in 2010 reflected this proposal, showcasing a judge-driven reform tailored to the practical requirements of environmental cases in India. This approach, while considering comparative law, focused on addressing the unique environmental challenges in the country, marking a significant development in India's legal landscape.[2]

A. Amendments

In total there has been 16 Notifications with are related to the National Green Tribunal rules/ Amendments.

The latest amendment (By November 2023) , is in the National Green Tribunal (Practices and Procedure) Rules, 2011 , in sub - rule (1) of rule 3 , the proviso was omitted. [17] Going back , in the year 2019 , another amendment was made specifically addressed the promotion eligibility for the position of Private Secretary, reducing the required service from six to five years.[18]

In the year 2016 another amendment was made to the National Green Tribunal (Practices and Procedure) Rules, 2011." Specifically, the amendment introduces a new provision in rule 12 of these rules. The added sub-rule, referred to as "(2A)," states that every miscellaneous application submitted under the National Green Tribunal (Practices and Procedure) Rules, 2011, shall be accompanied by a fee of five hundred rupees. This fee requirement for miscellaneous applications is the key change introduced by the amendment.[19]

B.  Judicial pronouncements

This section of the NGT Act, 2010 is intricately linked to various judicial precedents that have significantly influenced its formulation. These legal precedents not only served as a foundation for the Act but also played a pivotal role in shaping its jurisdictional and institutional character. The legislative considerations in crafting the NGT Act were guided by a thorough examination of these judicial decisions, particularly those that brought about alterations in the Tribunal's jurisdictional and institutional framework. Thus, this part of the Act reflects a nuanced response to the evolving legal landscape, incorporating insights from past judicial precedents that have had a substantive impact on the structure and functions of the National Green Tribunal.

Judgments affecting the jurisdictional/ institutional character:
  • Ratlam Municipality vs. Vardhichand:[20]

The Supreme Court, in response to a criminal appeal concerning open drains and public excretion by slum dwellers in Ratlam, issued directives for their removal. The decision drew on Article 47 of the Constitution, a Directive Principle under Part IV that emphasizes the "improvement of public health." The Court instructed the Ratlam Municipality to take specific measures to uphold public health, highlighting the judiciary's crucial role in protecting public welfare. This case underscores the judiciary's reliance on constitutional principles to guide local authorities in implementing necessary actions for the overall well-being of the community.

  • M.C. Mehta & Anr. Etc vs. Union of India & Ors. Etc:[21]

In the context of establishing Environmental Courts, the recommendation by the then Chief Justice of India, Justice P.N. Bhagwati, was grounded in two primary reasons, as elucidated in the corresponding judgment: a. Rising Cases Involving Environmental Issues: Justice P.N. Bhagwati highlighted a growing trend of legal cases entailing concerns related to environmental pollution, ecological degradation, and disputes over natural resources. The surge in such cases indicated a heightened need for specialized forums capable of addressing the intricate legal dimensions associated with environmental matters.  b. Demand for Scientific and Technical Assessment: Another significant factor was the escalating demand for the assessment and interpretation of scientific and technical data pertinent to environmental issues. Recognizing the complexities of environmental challenges, the suggestion to establish Environmental Courts aimed at creating dedicated platforms equipped with the expertise to comprehend and evaluate the evolving scientific and technical aspects integral to these matters.

  • Ms. Betty C. Alvares vs. The State of Goa Ors.:[22]

In this significant case, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) played a pivotal role in establishing that even a foreign national can approach the tribunal for environmental issues. The case involved a complaint by a foreign national named Betta Alvarez regarding illegal constructions in the Coastal

Betta Alvarez, a foreign national, filed a complaint about illegal constructions in Goa's Coastal Regulation Zone. However, before the case could be decided on its merits, the maintainability of the application was challenged. Two primary objections were raised. Firstly, it was argued that Betta Alvarez, being a non-Indian citizen, lacked locus standi under Article 21 of the Constitution. The second objection was based on the law of limitation. Addressing the first objection, the NGT rejected a narrow interpretation of the rights guaranteed under Article 21. The tribunal boldly asserted that even if Betta Alvarez was not an Indian citizen, her application was maintainable. The tribunal highlighted that Betty had previously filed various petitions and contempt applications, asserting illegal constructions that encroached upon sea beaches and governmental properties. To determine locus standi, the court referred to Section 2(j) of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, interpreting the term 'person' broadly to include individuals, whether Indian nationals or not. The court emphasized that the details of Betty's nationality were irrelevant once it was established that any person, regardless of nationality, could file a proceeding related to environmental disputes. Consequently, the court affirmed the maintainability of Betta Alvarez's application without considering her nationality. This decision marked a crucial precedent, affirming the accessibility of the NGT for foreign nationals in environmental matters.

  • Srinagar Bandh Aapda Sangharsh Samiti & Anr. vs. Alaknanda hydro Power Co. Ltd. & Ors:[23]

The case established the principle of "Polluter Pays." Petitioner No. 1 and another filed a petition against Alaknanda Hydro Power Co. Ltd., seeking compensation of INR 9,26,42,795 for damage caused during the 2013 Uttarakhand floods. The petition alleged that the company had improperly disposed of construction-generated 'muck,' leading to substantial losses in life and property for the petitioners. The Tribunal concluded that the damage resulted from floodwaters carrying soil and muck into residential areas, with clear evidence of the project's contribution. Despite the floods being attributed to a cloud burst, the damage was not deemed an Act of God. The Tribunal found a 30 percent footprint of Respondent No. 1's involvement in the damage. Even if considered an Act of God, the Tribunal justified invoking the 'No Fault Liability' under Section 17(3) of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. This principle held Respondent No. 1 liable to pay the claimed compensation, along with Rs. 1 lakh each to the applicants, and additional costs. The judgment exemplifies the NGT's application of the "polluter pays" principle, holding a private entity accountable for compensation in environmental matters. The case established the principle of "Polluter Pays." Petitioner No. 1 and another filed a petition against Alaknanda Hydro Power Co. Ltd., seeking compensation of INR 9,26,42,795 for damage caused during the 2013 Uttarakhand floods. The petition alleged that the company had improperly disposed of construction-generated 'muck,' leading to substantial losses in life and property for the petitioners. The Tribunal concluded that the damage resulted from floodwaters carrying soil and muck into residential areas, with clear evidence of the project's contribution. Despite the floods being attributed to a cloud burst, the damage was not deemed an Act of God. The Tribunal found a 30 percent footprint of Respondent No. 1's involvement in the damage. Even if considered an Act of God, the Tribunal justified invoking the 'No Fault Liability' under Section 17(3) of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. This principle held Respondent No. 1 liable to pay the claimed compensation, along with Rs. 1 lakh each to the applicants, and additional costs. The judgment exemplifies the NGT's application of the "polluter pays" principle, holding a private entity accountable for compensation in environmental matters.

  • Samir Mehta vs. Union of India and Ors.:[24]

The case revolved around determining the NGT's jurisdiction in an incident occurring 20 nautical miles off Mumbai's coast, beyond India's territorial waters. The Tribunal asserted its jurisdiction based on India's sovereignty over natural resources in contiguous areas and economic zones under the Maritime Zones Act, 1976. It held authority to address maritime pollution in these zones and to grant compensation for government expenses in cleaning wrecks, aligning with international conventions. Respondents (Delta Group International) were held liable to pay Rs. 100 Crores in environmental damages to the Ministry of Shipping for causing marine pollution. Adani companies, despite not owning the ship, were found beneficially involved and were ordered to pay damages of five crore rupees under Section 71 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958. The Tribunal reinforced the "Precautionary Principle" and "Polluter Pays Principle," recognizing the right to a clean environment under Article 21 of the Constitution. The ship's sinking led to pollution through coal dumping, fuel oil release, and wreckage, attributed to the unseaworthy vessel. The Tribunal awarded compensation of a hundred Crores to Delta Group and five Crores to Adani Enterprises, payable to the Ministry of Shipping, affirming liability under the Government of India.

  • Municipal Corporation of Bombay vs. Ankita Sinha:[25]

The case clarified the NGT's authority to take Suo-Moto action in environmental matters. The court emphasized the broad mandate of the NGT in securing environmental protection, asserting that it has the power to identify and intervene in cases at its own initiative, without being constrained by procedural requirements or formal petitions. Justice Roy argued that expanding statutory provisions is necessary to protect the right to life, allowing the NGT to exercise suo moto powers effectively. Referring to the judgment in Mantri Techzone (P) Ltd. v Forward Foundation (2019), the court highlighted the NGT's special jurisdiction for enforcing environmental rights, including suo moto powers. It distinguished the NGT's powers from those of constitutional courts, noting that the NGT's authority is confined to environmental issues. The court held that as long as the 'sphere of action' is not breached, the NGT's powers should be interpreted liberally. The judgment aimed to address the imbalance of powers in the interest of social justice, particularly concerning environmental concerns, by expanding locus standi in public interest litigation. Emphasizing the NGT's role in intertwining human rights and environmental concerns, Justice Roy affirmed the tribunal's capacity to devise unique solutions for environmental protection. The NGT, as an environmental court, is mandated to effectively address environmental issues, and therefore, its powers, including suo moto powers, should be construed broadly.

  • Rural Litigation Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) vs. Union of India:[26]

In the 1983 case of Rural Litigation & Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) v. Union of India, the Rural Litigation & Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) initiated the first Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in India dedicated to environmental protection. The PIL sought the closure of numerous limestone quarries that were causing environmental pollution, ecological imbalance, and health hazards. The respondents, representing the State and the quarry units, argued against closure, citing potential economic consequences. After evaluating the arguments, the Court ordered the permanent closure of specific categories of limestone quarries. While acknowledging the hardship on quarry owners, the Court emphasized that such consequences were necessary to protect the public's right to live in a healthy environment. The decision aimed to minimize disruptions to the ecological balance, prevent hazards to people, livestock, homes, and agricultural land, and address adverse effects on air, water, and the overall environment.

  • Wilfred J vs. Ministry of Environment & Forests:[27]

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asserted that it possesses powers of judicial review within a limited scope, specifically to decide on the validity of subordinate legislation, and not on the validity of primary legislation. The NGT maintains that it is competent, vested with jurisdiction, and possesses the powers of judicial review. It functions with the characteristics of a court and exercises both judicial and merit review powers. The NGT emphasized that there is no provision in the NGT Act of 2010 that restricts its jurisdiction to examine the legality, validity, and correctness of delegated legislation related to the Acts listed in Schedule I of the NGT Act of 2010. This statement underscores the tribunal's authority to review and assess the legality of delegated legislation while operating within the framework provided by its governing legislation.

  • Alembic Pharmaceuticals Ltd. vs. Rohit Prajapati (2015):[28]

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) enacted the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification in 1994, stipulating that certain industries listed in Schedule I must obtain Environmental Clearances (ECs) for establishment or expansion, especially if their pollution load exceeded existing limits. The deadline for compliance was initially extended to March 31, 1999, and later to June 30, 2001, through various circulars. On May 14, 2002, the MoEF issued a circular permitting industries to obtain ECs retrospectively, even after commencing operations, until March 31, 2003. The circular also mandated defaulting units seeking expansion to contribute funds proportionate to their investments for eco-development or community development projects in India. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) for the Western Zone, in a verdict on January 8, 2016, invalidated the 2002 circular, ordering the shutdown of units operating without valid ECs. Each unit was also directed to pay Rs. 10 Lakhs as compensation. Alembic Pharmaceuticals, the appellant in the lead Supreme Court appeal, also owned two other implicated industries, while United Phosphorus Ltd. and Unique Chemicals were the 8th and 9th respondents, totaling three industries in the case. In retrospect, the circular was deemed by one Union of India appeal as "purely administrative" and, therefore, not subject to the Environmental Protection Act (EPA), enabling the NGT to strike it down. The Supreme Court, upholding the clarity of the 1994 notification's language, rejected the need for the term "prior," asserting that an ex post facto EC contradicts fundamental environmental jurisprudence. The purpose of an EC, the court argued, is to assess potential environmental damage before operations commence. Therefore, granting an EC after operations begin renders the process ineffective. Industries claiming exception under the 1994 notification were found to be outside this exception as they lacked the required clearances before January 27, 1994. Consequently, the Supreme Court, deeming the 2002 circular invalid and noting non-compliance with the 1994 mandates, ordered the three industries to pay Rs. 10 Crores each to the Gujarat Pollution Control Board. Importantly, the Court reversed the NGT's prior shutdown order, considering the employment and investment implications associated with the industries.

  • Society for Protection of Environment and Biodiversity vs. Union of India[29]

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has nullified the December 2016 notification issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) that diluted substantive provisions of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2006, which mandated prior Environmental Clearance (EC) for building and construction activities. The NGT deemed the 2016 notification ultra vires, asserting that it allowed construction of buildings and apartments without adhering to environmental norms. The tribunal emphasized that unregulated building and construction activities would result in substantial environmental damage, and the environmental footprint would be extensive. These judgments signify an expansion of the NGT's jurisdiction and an augmentation of its powers to address environmental disputes. The NGT has played a pivotal role in interpreting environmental laws, acting as a crucial institution in safeguarding the environment and promoting sustainable development in India.

Other Major Judgments:
  • Subhash Kumar vs. State of Bihar:[30]

The Supreme Court declared that the "right to life" under Article 21 of the Constitution includes the right to access free water and unpolluted air. The court clarified that public interest litigation (PIL) applications under Article 32 would be considered maintainable if filed by individuals or groups genuinely interested in public welfare. However, the Court issued a caution, emphasizing that applications driven by personal gain or vendetta must be dismissed. This underscores the Court's commitment to ensuring that PILs are filed with a sincere concern for public interest and not for personal benefit or ulterior motives. It reflects the court's intention to filter out cases that might misuse the PIL mechanism for individual or private interests rather than serving the broader public good.

  • A.P. Pollution Control Board vs. M.V. Nayudu:[31]

The Supreme Court underscored the significance of instituting Environmental Courts, emphasizing the vital need to incorporate expert advice from environmental scientists and technically qualified individuals into the judicial process. This recommendation stemmed from a comprehensive discussion that took into account perspectives from jurists of various countries. The objective behind this initiative was to augment the judiciary's capability in addressing environmental issues by integrating specialized knowledge and expertise into the decision-making process. This reflects a commitment to ensuring a more informed and adept handling of legal matters related to the environment through the inclusion of experts in the judicial proceedings.

  • Almitra H. Patel & Ors. vs. Union of India and Ors.[32]

a landmark case addressed the critical issue of solid waste management in India. Mrs. Almitra Patel and others filed a PIL under Article 32 of the Constitution, seeking immediate improvements in the handling of Municipal Solid Waste in the country. The Tribunal recognized the significant magnitude of the dispute, with over a lakh of tonnes of raw waste being dumped daily without proper treatment outside city limits. The total society-generated waste exceeded 133,760 MT per day as of 2012-2013, steadily increasing. Taking into account the Principles of Circular Economy, the Tribunal emphasized the need to convert this waste into a source of energy and fuel for societal benefit. In its judgment, the Tribunal issued over 25 directions. The Tribunal mandated every state and Union Territory to enforce the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, and initiate the plan in phases within four weeks. It directed the Central Government, state governments, local bodies, and citizens to fulfill their respective duties promptly. Absolute segregation of waste for energy plants became obligatory, and landfills were restricted to depositing inert waste only, subject to bio-stabilization within six months. Furthermore, the Tribunal imposed a prohibition on the open burning of waste, including at landfills, emphasizing the urgency of addressing the environmental challenges associated with improper waste disposal.

  • Tarun Bharat Sangh, Alwar v. Union of India[33]

In this case brought, by the petitioner, Tarun Bharat Sangh, against the Government of Rajasthan, it was alleged that the issuance of 400 mining licenses for the extraction of lime and dolomite stones within a protected area violated various wildlife, environmental protection, and forest conservation laws. This unauthorized mining activity was claimed to have adversely impacted the region's ecology and posed a threat to wildlife habitat. The Court clarified that the case did not involve shutting down a lawful activity for ecological reasons but rather ensuring compliance with existing laws enacted for environmental protection. It emphasized that once an area is declared a protected forest, it falls under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, subject to restrictions on non-forest activities without prior approval from the Central Government. Since mining is considered a non-forest activity, it requires prior approval from the Central Government. The Court found that granting mining licenses and renewing them without obtaining this necessary approval for mines within the protected forest was against the law. As a result, the Supreme Court ruled that no mining operations, of any nature, would be allowed within the protected area, emphasizing the importance of upholding environmental laws and protecting ecologically sensitive regions.

  • T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad vs Union of India & Ors.[34]

In 1995, a writ petition was filed with the Supreme Court of India by T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad to safeguard the Nilgiris forest land from deforestation caused by illegal timber operations. In 1996, the Supreme Court played a pivotal role in interpreting the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, notably redefining the term "forest" to enhance its scope for conservation. The Court, in its interpretation, broadened the definition of "forest" to include not only traditional forest areas but also those lacking the designation in revenue records, yet possessing characteristics of a forest. This reinterpretation aimed to prevent the circumvention of forest protection laws by illegal activities conducted in areas not officially recognized as forests. Consequently, the Supreme Court's intervention in the T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad case resulted in a more comprehensive protection of forest land. This encompassed a broader range of areas crucial for biodiversity and ecological balance, even if they were not formally categorized as forests in administrative records. This decision had a profound and far-reaching impact on the conservation and management of forested areas in India.

  • Narmada Bachao Andolan v. Union of India and others:[35]

In 1994, the Supreme Court faced a contentious Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the Sardar Sarovar Project, primarily brought by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA). The NBA filed a writ petition challenging the Government of India's actions and policies regarding the project, alleging that relevant issues, particularly representation for affected people, were not adequately considered. The NBA argued that these oversights led to a flawed project with underestimated social and environmental costs, human rights violations, and environmental damage. The Supreme Court, in response, limited the NBA petition's scope to relief and rehabilitation issues, stating that certain concerns, including environmental ones, had been raised belatedly and couldn't be considered at that stage. The Court emphasized that project conception falls within the government's purview, cautioning against the judiciary becoming an approval authority for public projects. The Court dismissed the NBA's public interest petition by a 2:1 majority, upholding the government's decision. It suggested that a properly drafted relief and rehabilitation plan could improve the displaced people's living standards, citing examples such as the Bhakra and Tehri Projects. The Court also noted the government's commitment to supplying water to drought-prone areas, acknowledging that the authenticity of this claim had not been thoroughly examined. The case was disposed of with a few directions.

3. Legislative Framework

A. Constituting Act:

  1. The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 is the legislative framework that established the National Green Tribunal.

B. Governance Structure:

  1. Chairperson: The tribunal is presided over by a Chairperson who is either a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court
  2. Judicial Members: The Act allows for the appointment of Judicial Members who must be serving or retired judges of High Courts
  3. Expert Members: Expert Members are appointed based on their expertise and experience in environmental matters.

C. Provisions relating to members of tribunals:

Appointment (Selection Committee Members)

  1. The Selection Committee, responsible for appointing members, includes the Chief Justice of India or his nominee, and other members appointed by the Central Government.

Strength of this committee

  1. Expertise and Balance: The committee is designed to include individuals with expertise in environmental matters. This ensures that members appointed to the NGT possess the necessary knowledge and experience to effectively adjudicate environmental cases. Collaborative Decision-Making: Involving the Chief Justice of India in the appointment of the NGT Chairperson fosters collaboration between the executive and judiciary, contributing to a balanced and impartial selection process. Transparency: The appointment process, guided by prescribed procedures, enhances transparency in the selection of Judicial and Expert Members. This transparency helps build public trust in the NGT's functionality. Efficient Environmental Adjudication: By incorporating individuals with diverse backgrounds, including legal and scientific expertise, the committee contributes to the efficient and informed adjudication of environmental cases, aligning with the NGT's mandate.

D. Qualification:

  1. The Chairperson must be a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court.
  2. Judicial Members must be serving or retired judges of High Courts.
  3. Expert Members must possess expertise and experience in environmental matters.

E. Reappointment:

  1. The Act does not explicitly mention provisions for reappointment.

F. Tenure:

  1. Judicial Members and Expert Members serve for a term of 5 years or until the age of 67, whichever comes earlier.
  2. The Chairperson serves for a term of 5 years or until the age of 70, whichever comes earlier.

G. Vacancy:

Vacancies are filled through a new appointment as per the prescribed process.

H. Salaries/Allowances/Removal:

  1. Salaries, allowances, and other conditions of service are determined by the Central Government.
  2. Removal procedures are governed by the provisions of the Act.

I. Procedural Framework:

The NGT (Practice and Procedure) Rules, 2011 provide the procedural framework for the functioning of the tribunal.

J. Distribution - Benches and their Jurisdiction:

  1. The NGT comprises a Principal Bench in New Delhi and Regional Benches in Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata, and Chennai.
  2. The jurisdiction of the NGT covers all civil cases where a substantial question relating to the environment is involved.

K. Sanctioned Strength/Vacancies:

  1. The Act does not specify a fixed sanctioned strength.
  2. Vacancies are filled through the appointment process as and when they arise.

4. Digitization checklist

A. Disposal standards:

To address older or complex cases, a Special Bench chaired by the Chairperson via video conferencing was established, resulting in the disposal of such cases. As of now, very few cases are likely pending for more than five years in the NGT.[36] In instances where proceedings were stayed, the registry promptly communicated this to the relevant court's registry, facilitating the disposal of long-pending cases and preventing delays in public projects. Data analysis revealed that appeals are processed more expeditiously than writ petitions within the court system. Approximately 35% of appeals are resolved within one year, while only 25% extend beyond five years. In contrast, 65% of writ petitions surpass the five-year mark for disposal, attributed to the nature of writs falling under the court's original jurisdiction versus appellate jurisdiction.[37] Which endured for 19 years and involved over 54 interlocutory applications. Cases are usually scheduled for hearing post the first judgment if any interlocutory application is filed[38]. This demonstrates an 85.4% case resolution rate, highlighting the effectiveness of the NGT's inclusive participatory mechanisms that facilitate access to the tribunal for victims of environmental degradation.

Status of Litigation


At the national level, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has experienced significant case growth, reflecting a rising awareness and confidence in the NGT. This growing confidence underscores the widespread credibility of the tribunal and its role in promoting and supporting environmental justice. The status of NGT litigation from July 2011 to January 2018 highlights the tribunal's crucial function in addressing environmental concerns and delivering justice to individuals who have been adversely affected.

Grand total of Institutions


The data was collected from various sources with data from Newspapers , Office orders , and publications by Think tank which did empirical research and found the data and also the National green Tribunal annual report.

In summary , Between July 2018 and July 2023, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) handled 15,132 new cases, successfully disposing of 16,042. A Special Bench addressed older or complex cases, resulting in few cases pending for over five years. Appeals were efficiently processed, with 35% resolved within a year. However, 65% of writ petitions took over five years due to their original jurisdiction nature. Despite overall efficiency, some cases extended beyond 10 years. Courts sought assistance in decision-making in 60% of cases, and out of 23,095 cases filed, 19,740 were decided, demonstrating an 85.4% resolution rate. The increasing caseload reflects growing confidence in the NGT and its role in environmental justice.

B. Video Conferencing:

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) operates with five benches, and over the past five years, some benches have remained unmanned due to delays in member selection and appointment. The implementation of video conferencing dates back to 2018, primarily addressing staff shortages in benches located in Kolkata, Chennai, Pune, and Bhopal. Petitioners in environmental cases faced difficulties as they were required to travel to Delhi for hearings, incurring financial and physical burdens. As of April, the National Green Tribunal had a total of 3,236 pending cases.

Among these, 1,484 awaited resolution before the principal bench in Delhi, with additional cases pending in regional benches: 579 in Chennai, 580 in Pune, 325 in Bhopal, and 268 in Kolkata. Recognizing the challenges faced by petitioners, the NGT is considering conducting hearings through video conferencing to alleviate logistical burdens[41]. In 2021, the NGT demonstrated efficiency by disposing of 2,288 cases and accepting 2,083 applications through video conferencing[42]. Regarding the standard operating protocol for video conferencing hearings in the NGT, the Principal Bench in New Delhi established a process where all pleadings must be filed through the "e-filing" module on the NGT website ( Payment of fees and printing costs is mandated to be done exclusively through online modes[43]. Furthermore, all reports, written submissions, and audio/video recordings of oral submissions are to be submitted to the designated email address, with copies sent to the relevant zonal benches:,,, as applicable.

For more information, refer to the guidelines and process available at the provided link[43].

C. Cause list:

Concerning the cause list, there are two main benches: the Principal Bench and the Zone Bench. The Principal Bench consists of four courts—Chairperson Bench[44], Court No. II[45], Court No. III[46], and RG Court[47]. Additionally, there are four Zonal Benches: Eastern[48], Western[49], Central[50], and Southern[51] Benches. All benches offer hybrid hearings and provide both advance and normal cause lists. The cause list includes particulars such as case  number, time of hearing (which starts at 10:30 AM), and case information. For video conferencing, counsels for the parties/parties are required to join by 10:15 AM and wait in the virtual lobby. The cause list outlines the sequence in which cases will be heard by the bench, specifying whether the case is an appeal or an original application. It includes the names of parties (appellant and respondents) and counsels representing them, indicating who will appear on behalf of each party. The cause list also mentions whether the matter is for consideration. To check the case status, one can use the zonal bench name, diary number, and diary year[52].The information for case status can be accessed by filling in these details.

D. E-filing:[53]

1. How to register as a new user.

Go onto and move to “E-filing” tab.

You may allow follow this link to the Manuel ""

Register as a new user
Selection of user type
  • Select the type of user, from the options given. If you as an individual is creating the login in then go for individual user type, if you’re an advocate then advocate user type, if you’re an institution then institution user type and if you’re from the government of India side then the GOI user type.
Registration process
2. Petition filing:

This part would explain how a petition is filed.

You may allow follow this link to the Manuel ""

Main page for petition filing
3. E- Payment:

This part deals with how payment is made after the application is filed.

You may allow follow this link to the Manuel ""

Payment Screen

4. E-Order:

This part deals with how to access an E-order

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5. Other Essential Research

This section is bifurcated into two segments. Part 1 encompasses official reports from various nations, along with the Report of the Indian law commissions. In contrast, Part 2 focuses on reports and research conducted by think tanks for the National Green Tribunal. The exploration within this section also addresses pertinent issues such as identifying gaps and overlaps within the research documents.

A. Official Reports:

1. Report of Dr. Malcolm Grant in the UK (2000).[54]

Dr. Malcolm Grant's 2000 report in the United Kingdom marked a significant contribution to the understanding and management of environmental issues during that period. The report likely addressed a myriad of concerns that were pertinent to the UK's environmental landscape.

a. Environmental Challenges: The report would have delved into various environmental challenges, encompassing air and water quality, waste management, and the overall impact of industrial and urban activities on the natural environment. It might have assessed the state of biodiversity, identifying threatened species and ecosystems.

b. Policy Recommendations: Dr. Grant, known for his expertise in law and governance, likely provided recommendations aimed at enhancing existing environmental policies or proposing new legislative measures. These could include strategies for reducing pollution, promoting sustainable practices, and encouraging corporate responsibility in environmental matters.

c. Public Awareness and Engagement: Recognizing the importance of public participation in environmental conservation, the report might have emphasized the need for increased awareness and education. Recommendations could have involved public campaigns, educational programs, and community engagement initiatives to foster a sense of responsibility and environmental stewardship.

2. Report of the Royal Commission (23rd Report, March 2002).[55]

The 23rd Report of the Royal Commission, released in March 2002, would have been a comprehensive assessment of the overall state of the nation, including a thorough examination of environmental issues.

a. Landscape of Environmental Concerns: The report likely provided an extensive overview of environmental concerns in the UK at that time. This could encompass topics such as land use, energy consumption, climate change, and the state of natural resources. It might have discussed the impact of industrial activities on air and water quality.

b. Recommendations for Sustainable Development: Given the growing emphasis on sustainable development, the report may have proposed strategies for balancing economic growth with environmental conservation. This could involve recommendations for green technologies, renewable energy sources, and eco-friendly urban planning.

c. Legislative and Regulatory Proposals: To address identified challenges, the report might have recommended changes to existing legislation or proposed new regulations. This could include measures to control emissions, protect natural habitats, and incentivize environmentally responsible practices in various industries.

3. Brundtland Report (1987).[56]

The Brundtland Report, officially titled "Our Common Future," is a landmark document that laid the foundation for global discussions on sustainable development.

a. Sustainable Development Defined: The report is renowned for introducing the concept of sustainable development, emphasizing the interdependence of economic, social, and environmental factors. It argued that development should meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

b. Global Cooperation: Recognizing that environmental issues are inherently global, the Brundtland Report advocated for international cooperation to address challenges such as climate change, deforestation, and loss of biodiversity. It stressed the importance of a united approach to ensure the sustainability of the planet.

c. Legacy and Impact: The Brundtland Report's impact has been profound, influencing policy-making at national and international levels. It laid the groundwork for conventions and agreements on climate change and biodiversity and continues to shape discussions on sustainable development today.

4. Dr. Varadarajan Committee Report of 1995.[57]

Dr. Varadarajan's Committee Report from 1995 likely focused on environmental issues specific to India, providing insights into the challenges faced by the country and offering tailored recommendations.

a. Indian Environmental Landscape: The report would have assessed the unique environmental challenges in India, considering factors such as population growth, industrialization, and the preservation of the country's diverse ecosystems. Topics could include air and water pollution, deforestation, and the conservation of wildlife.

b. Strategies for Sustainable Development: Given the importance of balancing economic growth with environmental conservation in a developing nation, the report might have proposed strategies for sustainable development. This could include measures to promote clean energy, efficient resource use, and sustainable agriculture practices.

c. Cultural and Community Perspectives: Understanding the cultural and community aspects of environmental conservation is crucial in a diverse country like India. The report may have highlighted the role of local communities, traditional knowledge, and indigenous practices in environmental stewardship.

4. Indian Law commission report 186th.[58]

The Law Commission of India's 186th Report in 2003 proposed the establishment of environmental courts in India. This recommendation stemmed from a thorough examination of the technical and scientific issues that were brought before regular courts. The report highlighted the limitations of judicial knowledge concerning the intricate scientific and technical aspects of environmental matters, as well as the deficiencies in the right of appeal and the powers of mediation within the existing legal framework. One key aspect addressed in the report was the right of appeal to the proposed environmental courts. It was emphasized that this right would extend not only to applicants but also to any person who made a submission on resource-consent decisions, including third parties. Furthermore, the report emphasized that third parties could approach the court to seek an order enforcing the Resource Management Act against any other party involved. This broad scope of appeal aimed to ensure that diverse stakeholders had the opportunity to engage in environmental decision-making processes. The genesis of the recommendation, as noted in the report, was a response to observations made by the Supreme Court of India in four judgments. These judgments had referenced the concept of a "multi-faceted" Environmental Court with both judicial and technical/scientific inputs. The report thus underscored the influence of the judiciary in shaping this proposed reform. The 186th Report acknowledged the need for a specialized court equipped with the expertise necessary to handle the complexities of environmental disputes. It recognized the importance of incorporating scientific and technical perspectives into the decision-making process. The proposal aimed to establish a framework that could effectively address environmental issues and contribute to the sustainable management of resources. It's noteworthy that the subsequent establishment of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2010 can be viewed as a result of this proposal. The NGT Act reflected a "judge-driven reform," indicating that the design of the new green courts was influenced by the needs identified by the judiciary. This approach is significant as it tailored the structure of the green courts to the practical requirements and challenges presented by environmental cases, rather than relying solely on abstract models. While comparative law was considered, the primary focus was on aligning the structure with the unique environmental challenges faced in India, making it a notable development in the country's legal landscape.

B. Research by Think Tank:

The Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy[59] has actively engaged in researching the functioning of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). In this endeavor, they have compiled a comprehensive database consisting of environmental judgments from the Supreme Court spanning the period from 1980 to 2018. This extensive collection of judgments serves as the basis for a detailed quantitative and qualitative analysis, aimed at discerning the successes and shortcomings of these legal decisions. The research conducted by Vidhi involves a thorough examination of five landmark judgments, a process undertaken between 2019 and 2020. Through this analysis, they seek to provide a nuanced understanding of the impact and implications of these key legal pronouncements. The objective is likely to extract insights into the effectiveness of the legal framework, identifying areas of success and potential areas for improvement. In addition to a meticulous review of judgments, Vidhi's research extends beyond the confines of the courtroom. Field verification, on-site interviews, and in-depth investigations complement the analysis, allowing for a more holistic assessment of the practical outcomes and real-world implications of environmental legal decisions. This multifaceted approach ensures that the research goes beyond theoretical considerations, providing a comprehensive perspective that incorporates the practical aspects of environmental jurisprudence. By combining quantitative data, qualitative analysis, and on-the-ground investigations, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy aims to contribute valuable insights to the discourse surrounding environmental law in India. The research not only sheds light on the judicial landscape but also offers a practical understanding of the challenges and successes in the implementation of environmental judgments. Such endeavors play a crucial role in shaping informed policy decisions and fostering a more effective and responsive legal framework for environmental protection[37].

The Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy has actively engaged in the analysis of proposed amendments in the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2022, related to environmental laws in India. Their comprehensive examination involved a detailed assessment of the amendments, considering both legal and practical implications. Vidhi has not only observed but also contributed to the legislative process by submitting detailed comments and suggestions to the Joint Parliamentary Committee responsible for reviewing these proposed amendments. This active participation demonstrates Vidhi's commitment to evidence-based policy advocacy and its dedication to ensuring that any changes to environmental laws are well-considered and aligned with the broader goals of environmental protection and sustainability. The analysis conducted by Vidhi reflects a combination of legal expertise and a practical understanding of environmental issues, enhancing the quality of the legislative process. By offering thoughtful recommendations to the Joint Parliamentary Committee, Vidhi contributes to the democratic and consultative nature of lawmaking, strengthening the legal foundations for environmental protection in India. This engagement underscores the vital role of research institutions in shaping effective legal frameworks that address the dynamic and complex nature of environmental challenges, fostering collaboration between legal experts, policymakers, and civil society[60].

C. Editorials:

Between July 2018 and July 2023, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) faced a significant caseload, managing 15,132 new cases and successfully disposing of 16,042 cases during this five-year period. The Law Minister, in a statement to Parliament, highlighted the NGT's commendable performance, noting that it resolved more cases than it received within this timeframe. Noteworthy is the fact that the Chairperson's bench alone disposed of 8,419 cases, showcasing a proactive approach to case resolution. Despite the efficiency in handling cases, a persistent challenge lies in the protracted duration of some legal proceedings[61]. Even after the Supreme Court delivers its initial judgment, a substantial portion of cases extends beyond 10 years, exemplified by the Consumer Education and Research Society vs UOI and Ors case highlighted in a recent study. Courts faced challenges in decision-making, seeking assistance in certain matters[62]. A sample size of 53 cases revealed that in nearly 60% of these instances, the court relied on special advice to gather evidence. Official figures indicate that out of 23,095 cases filed, 19,740 were decided, leaving 3,355 pending before the NGT[63]. To address these challenges, even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NGT took proactive measures, adopting video conferencing to hear cases related to unmanned benches. This practice, implemented to streamline proceedings, has persisted both during and after the pandemic, underscoring the Tribunal's commitment to adapting to evolving circumstances and ensuring efficient dispensation of justice[64].

6. Issues and Challenges

A.   Organizational problems:

Over the past nine years, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has consistently fallen short of the mandated minimum strength of ten judicial and ten expert members to handle the rising number of environmental litigations nationwide. At present, the NGT is in a paralyzed state, operating with only four judicial and two expert members. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has provided no indication of appointing additional judicial and expert members. Consequently, all four zonal benches have remained closed for the past year. Zonal bench litigation hearings are now conducted through video-conference, typically lasting only one to two hours. Numerous lawyers practicing in the NGT have voiced their discomfort with video conference hearings, citing significant costs and burdens imposed on their clients. Hearings are frequently adjourned or scheduled in inconvenient ways, offering insufficient time for lawyers and clients to present their cases.

Video conference hearings are often abruptly canceled at the last minute, leading lawyers to discover this upon reaching the zonal bench after investing valuable time and resources. Lawyers also express frustration at the limited opportunity to address new matters during video-conference hearings. The majority of cases remain unresolved within the mandated six-month time frame. Despite significant changes in the scale and nature of environmental litigation, the government has not demonstrated a commitment to appointing a diverse range of expert members to tackle complex environmental issues, spanning from nuclear waste to bio-medical and hazardous wastes.

B.   Insufficient Execution of Decisions:

The Law Commission of India, in its 186th Report, not only recommended the establishment of environmental courts but also suggested granting these courts contempt jurisdiction[65]. The rationale behind this recommendation was to expedite the implementation of orders from these specialized courts, considering the time-consuming nature of trials in ordinary criminal cases. However, this suggestion was not incorporated into the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act, and the NGT lacks explicit provisions for contempt jurisdiction. Although Section 26 of the Act empowers the NGT to punish non-compliance with its orders with imprisonment up to three years or a fine up to Rs. 10 crores, this offense falls under the jurisdiction of ordinary criminal courts. Despite this, in a case where a petitioner filed contempt applications before the Tribunal, the NGT asserted its 'inherent powers' to enforce orders[66]. However, the source of these inherent powers was not elaborated upon. Despite such assertions, there are significant challenges in enforcing the directions and orders of the NGT. In numerous landmark cases, the Tribunal's directives are either not implemented on the ground, or the awarded compensations are not adhered to within the specified time frames. For instance, the NGT's order from November 10, 2016, addressing air pollution in Delhi, with explicit directions on combating short-term and long-term pollution, remains largely unimplemented. The PM 2.5 levels (used by the Tribunal to measure pollution) at the time of the order were around 600, and despite subsequent worsening pollution, the directives were not enforced. The NGT, in its order, had strongly criticized government officials, stating that the "right to life has been infringed with impunity," but later admitted that there was no plausible explanation for the non-compliance a year later. Similarly, significant cases involving issues like illegal mining and solid waste management continue to lack enforcement despite NGT interventions. This raises concerns about the effectiveness and implementation of the NGT's decisions in addressing environmental challenges[67]

C.   Erosion of NGT's Autonomy via Modifications to the Finance Act, 2017:

In 2017, legislative amendments through the Finance Act significantly reduced the independence of the National Green Tribunal (NGT)[68]. The changes[69], enacted through Section 10A, allowed the Central Government to control the qualifications, appointments, and conditions of service for NGT members. The subsequent Rules diluted the qualifications for the NGT's chairperson, now allowing political influence in appointments. The authority to remove members was transferred to the Central Government, and tenures were shortened from five to three years. These alterations compromise the NGT's independence and appear to be a response to the tribunal's obstruction of projects and holding officials accountable. The Supreme Court has expressed concerns, urging a reversal of these amendments to restore the NGT's original independence.

D.   Absence of Fundamental Facilities and Infrastructure:

Since its inception, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has faced operational challenges due to a lack of basic amenities and infrastructure. Initially operating from makeshift quarters in Delhi's Van Vigyan Bhavan, lacking facilities like a kitchen, the Tribunal struggled with inadequate salaries for its retired High Court judge members[70].This led to the resignation of three judicial members.

Despite the requirement for ten expert and judicial members, the NGT initially operated with only three experts and three judicial members due to poor infrastructure and a lack of responses during the initial recruitment. At one point, only the Principal Bench was operational, prompting criticism from legal experts like Gopal Subramanium, who described the NGT's functioning as a "very sorry state of affairs"[71]. The government's delay in sanctioning funds, budget cuts, and members having to cover their commuting costs added to the Tribunal's challenges. Affidavits claiming smooth functioning, despite inadequate infrastructure, were filed by state governments, such as in Bhopal, where the NGT operated from a basement. Similar issues persisted in Pune, and the Kolkata Bench faced accommodation problems. The Supreme Court had to intervene to address these deficiencies, describing certain affidavits as false and misleading. The court emphasized the need for dignified functioning and ordered state governments to provide adequate facilities. While there have been improvements, the current infrastructure remains insufficient for effective adjudication. Notably, all four zonal benches have been closed for the past year, with video conferencing for hearings lasting only one or two hours a day. Paradoxically, despite a 20.27% increase in the Environment Ministry's budget in 2019, budgetary allocations for the NGT and pollution abatement were reduced by 44% and 50%, respectively. These trends reflect a lack of legislative will to address inadequate infrastructure, revealing a conflict of interest between promoting the NGT and pursuing ambitious developmental projects. State governments, driven by the need to showcase developmental work for electoral gains, view the NGT as an obstacle, leading to apathetic responses and delays in addressing the Tribunal's needs.

E.   Prolonged Delays and Instances of Conflicts of Interest in Appointments:

Despite the enactment of the NGT Act in 2010, a lack of political interest in providing necessary amenities and facilities delayed the Tribunal's full functionality by nearly three years. Supreme Court intervention was required to address this delay. However, the government's indifferent stance persisted. Section 4 of the NGT Act mandates a minimum of ten judicial members and ten expert members, yet the current NGT has only five members – three judicial and two expert members. All zonal benches are closed, and cases are heard via video conferencing at the Principal Bench in New Delhi. With jurisdiction over more than 13,000 local courts, the five members bear the responsibility of adjudicating all environmental cases in the country. This shortage has led to a backlog of legal proceedings, impacting compensation claims related to illegal deforestation, dams, mining, and power plants. The constant shuffling of benches, along with increased litigation costs, has further burdened litigating parties. Despite pleas to fill vacancies, the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) responded with an amendment allowing the NGT's chairperson to constitute a single-member bench under "exceptional circumstances," a move indicative of the government's intent to hinder the Tribunal's functioning. The Delhi High Court even questioned if the government aimed to wind up the NGT. Furthermore, the appointment of two serving officers from the MoEF&CC as expert members raises concerns about a conflict of interest. All four expert members would be from the Indian Forest Service, potentially impacting decisions related to forest clearances. This trend of appointing bureaucrats as expert members has diluted the NGT's expertise, jeopardizing its effectiveness in adjudicating complex environmental matters. It is recommended that expert members be appointed based on domain expertise in various environmental subjects to uphold the Tribunal's independence and ensure comprehensive handling of scientific complexities[72].

7. Way Forward

The establishment of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) was driven by a visionary intent to serve as a dedicated forum for addressing environmental concerns and providing justice to individuals affected by natural calamities resulting from the actions of states, private institutions, or any other entities. Over the years, the NGT has demonstrated its efficacy in delivering justice to those impacted by environmental issues. However, the current state of the tribunal is a cause for concern, characterized by a myriad of challenges that undermine its effectiveness. One of the prominent issues plaguing the NGT is a critical shortage of funds, impeding its ability to function optimally. The financial constraints have hindered the tribunal's capacity to address environmental disputes and administer justice promptly. Additionally, the non-appointment of key members due to conflicts between various governments has further weakened the tribunal's institutional strength, rendering it incapable of carrying out its intended mandate. To revitalize the NGT and restore its efficacy, it is imperative for the government to address these pressing issues. Allocating adequate funds to the tribunal and expediting the appointment of qualified members are crucial steps in reinforcing its capabilities. The government must transcend bureaucratic obstacles and prioritize the empowerment of the NGT, recognizing its pivotal role in safeguarding the environment and ensuring justice for those adversely affected. Emphasizing the importance of the NGT in upholding the right to environmental justice, the government should set aside any reservations and proactively champion the cause of the tribunal. A concerted effort to strengthen the NGT will not only fortify its institutional framework but also reaffirm the government's commitment to environmental governance and the well-being of its citizens. It is only through such proactive measures that the NGT can regain its stature as a potent instrument for environmental justice in the country.

  1. The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, No.19 of 2010, (Act of Parliament), (India).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Report No. 186 on Proposal to Constitute Environment Courts”, (Law Commission of India 2003) accessed 15 November 2023.
  3. The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 Preamble.
  4. The National Green Tribunal act , 2010 § 18(6).
  5. Implementation of agenda 21 – report, United Nations Sustainable Development. Available at:  (Accessed: 15 November 2023). Para 8.18
  6. 6.0 6.1 8th October, 2010, vide notification No. S.O 2569(E), dated 18th October, 2010, see Gazette of India, Extraordinary, Part II, sec. 3(ii).Can be accessed "".
  7. Tribunals, (last visited November 19, 2023).
  8. National Green Tribunal. Available at:  (Accessed: 15 November 2023).
  9. The National Green Tribunal act 2010 ,§ 2(m).
  10. The National Green Tribunal act 2010 , § 15.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Bird’s eye view of NGT performance in the last five years (July, 2018) NGT Initiatives. Available at:  (Accessed: 15 November 2023).
  13. The National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997, (India).
  14. Statement made by Jairam Ramesh, former Minister of Environment and Forests, in the Indian Parliament, Apr. 2010, available at:
  15. The Bill was introduced in Parliament on 31 July 2009; passed in Lok Sabha (the lower house) on 30 Apr. 2010 and in Rajya Sabha (the upper house) on 5 May 2010.
  16. The Law Commission of India, 186th Report (2003), pp. 8–9.
  17. National Green Tribunal (Practices and Procedure) Amendment Rules, 2023, Gazette of India,  pt. II sec. 3 (Mar. 17, 2023).
  18. पर्यावरण, वन और जलवायु परिवर्तन मंत्रालय अधिसूचना (2019) National Green Tribunal, NGT Rules. Available at: (Accessed: 15 November 2023).
  19. National Green Tribunal (Practices and Procedure) (Amendment) Rules, 2016, Rule 12, Gazette of India, pt. II sec. 3(ii) (Apr. 22, 2016).
  20. Ratlam Municipality v. Vardhichand, AIR 1980 SC 1622.
  21. M.C. Mehta & Anr. Etc v. Union of India & Ors. Etc, 1986 SCR (1) 312.
  22. Ms. Betty C. Alvares v. The State of Goa Ors, Misc. Application No. 32/2014.
  23. Srinagar Bandh Aapda Sangharsh Samiti & Anr. v. Alaknanda hydro Power Co. Ltd. & Ors , Original Application No. 03 of 2014: MANU/GT/0101/2016.
  24. Samir Mehta v. Union of India and Ors, MANU/GT/0104/2016.
  25. Municipal Corporation of Bombay v Ankita Sinha, Civil Appeal No. 12122-12223 of 2018.
  26. Rural Litigation Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) v. Union of India, AIR 1988 SC 2187.
  27. Wilfred J v. Ministry of Environment & Forests, (1996) 5 SCC 281.
  28. Alembic Pharmaceuticals Ltd. v. Rohit Prajapati, Civil Appeal No. 1526 of 2016.
  29. Society for Protection of Environment and Biodiversity v. Union of India, 2017 SCC ONLINE NGT 981.
  30. Subhash Kumar v. State of Bihar, (AIR 1991 SC 420).
  31. A.P. Pollution Control Board v. M.V. Nayudu, 1999 (2) SCC 718.
  32. Almitra H. Patel & Ors. v. Union of India and Ors, Original Application No. 199 of 2014.
  33. Tarun Bharat Sangh, Alwar v. Union of India, (1993) INSC 209.
  34. T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India & Ors, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 202 of 1995.
  35. Narmada Bachao Andolan v. Union of India and others, Writ Petition (civil) 328 of 2002.
  36. Office order NGT(PB)DR/2018-19/68/570 (National Green Tribunal, Principal bench, New Delhi, 24/07/2018) Available at:
  37. 37.0 37.1 Sinha D. Mehta D. Rana E and Kuriakose S, 'Courting the Environment: Implementation of Environmental Judgments', Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, April 2021.
  38. Sinha D. Mehta D. Rana E and Kuriakose S, 'Courting the Environment: Implementation of Environmental Judgments', Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, April 2021, pp.14
  39. Status of litigation in the five NGT benches. Source: NGT Annual Report 2017.
  40. Status of litigation in five NGT benches. Source: NGT website (
  41. Bhumika Indulia et al., NGT to opt for “video-conferencing” to reduce pendency in regional benches SCC Blog (2018), (Last visited Nov 15, 2023).
  42. Admin, NGT disposes of 2,288 cases through video conferencing in 2021 Indian News Weekly (2022), (last visited Nov 15, 2023).
  43. 43.0 43.1 National Green Tribunal Act, National Green Tribunal, Principle Bench, Office Order (2020), (last visited Nov 15, 2023).
  44. National Green Tribunal,  (last visited Nov 16, 2023).
  45. National Green Tribunal,  (last visited Nov 16, 2023).
  46. National Green Tribunal, (last visited Nov 16, 2023).
  47. National Green Tribunal,  (last visited Nov 16, 2023).
  48. National Green Tribunal,  (last visited Nov 16, 2023).
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  50. National Green Tribunal, (last visited Nov 16, 2023).
  51. National Green Tribunal, (last visited Nov 16, 2023).
  52. National Green Tribunal, (last visited Nov 16, 2023).
  53. This Manuel can be used to learn the process of E-Filing.
  54. M. Grant, Department of the Environment, Transport & the Regions (UK), Environment Court Project Final Report (2000).
  55. Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution 23rd Report: Environmental planning. (March 2002).
  56. Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future 1–247 (1987), (last visited Nov 16, 2023).
  57. Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future 1–247 (1987), (last visited Nov 16, 2023).
  58. The Law Commission explicitly quotes the judgments M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India, 1986 (2) SCC 176; Indian Council for Environmental-Legal Action Vs Union of India: 1996(3) SCC 212; A.P. Pollution Control Board Vs M.V. Nayudu: 1999(2) SCC 718 and A.P. Pollution Control Board Vs M.V. Nayudu II: 2001(2) SCC 62.
  59. Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy (‘Vidhi’) is an independent think-tank doing legal research to make better laws and improve governance for the public good. We do this through high quality, peer reviewed original legal research; through engaging with the Government of India, State governments and other public institutions to both inform policy-making and to effectively convert policy into law; and through strategic litigation petitioning courts on important law and policy issues. Our abiding values are non-partisan engagement, research excellence and independence.
  60. DEBADITYO SINHA, HIMANSHU AHLAWAT & SHASHANK PANDEY, Analysis of proposed amendments to the environmental laws in Jan vishwas (amendment of provisions) Bill, 2022 Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy (2023), (last visited Nov 16, 2023).
  61. NGT’s case disposal rate higher than filing rate: Govt (2022) The Economic Times. Available at: (Accessed: 15 November 2023).
  62. Consumer Education and Research Society v. UOI and Ors, [SLP (C) 13658 of 1996].
  63. Id. pp.15.
  64. National Green Tribunal: A failing institution in need of revival, The Indian Express (2023), (last visited Nov 16, 2023).
  65. 186th Report on ‘Proposal to Constitute Environment Courts’, Law Commission of India, September 2003, pp. 151.
  66. The Braj Foundation v. Govt of U.P., Original Application No. 278 of 2013 and M.A. No. 110 of 2014.
  67. PTI, Delhi pollution: NGT bans construction, industrial activities till 14 November Live Mint (2017), (last visited Nov 16, 2023).
  68. Akash Vashishtha, Centre not to curtail powers of National Green Tribunal India Today (2014), (last visited Nov 16, 2023).
  69. Amendment dated 31 March 2017, inserted by the Finance Act 2017.
  70. Sambhav  Kumar Shrivastava, Green tribunal gets short shrift Down To Earth (2012), (last visited Nov 16, 2023).
  71. Utkarsh Anand, NGT member quits citing lack of facilities, THE INDIAN EXPRESS,
  72. Scroll Staff, Do you want to shut down the National Green Tribunal, Delhi High Court asks centre (2017), (last visited Nov 16, 2023).
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