National Green Tribunal raps absentee Environment Ministry
NGT was forced to adjourn various cases due to the absence of any counsel representing MoEF
New Delhi: National Green Tribunal (NGT) today rapped the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for its continued absence in various cases, causing their adjournment, and warned it of “coercive orders” if such attitude continued.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar expressed its displeasure for being forced to adjourn various cases due to the absence of any counsel representing MoEF, despite prior notice. “It has been noticed by the Tribunal that in a number of cases, nobody is representing MoEF despite the fact that they have been served (notice) and/or they have already appeared through counsel before the Tribunal in other cases.
“This state of affairs cannot go on indefinitely. We have adjourned cases for non appearance of counsel on behalf of MoEF in the interest of justice. Now, however, we would be compelled to pass appropriate orders if such attitude on part of MoEF continues,” the bench said.
“Let a copy of this order be sent to the Secretary of MoEF by fax and email today itself and officials in the Ministry be also informed of it for necessary action,” it added.
The bench was forced to express its disapproval once again when it had to adjourn the matter related to the killing of wild animals by vehicular traffic on a stretch of National Highway 37 passing through Kaziranga National Park in Assam.
“At the cost of repetition, we have noticed that in a number of cases today, and even yesterday, nobody appeared on behalf of MoEF, thus compelling (NGT) to adjourn the cases.”
“We are unable to appreciate this conduct on part of MoEF. We could have proceeded to pass some coercive orders today, but in the interest of justice, we defer the proceedings in this case which involves serious issues of grant of Environmental Clearance for road construction in the Kaziranga Sanctuary and death of wildlife, due to rash and negligent driving in that area,” the bench said.
It noted that since MoEF is a necessary party to the case, certain suggestions made by Assam government to address the issue could not be considered due to the absence of counsel representing the Ministry.
Yesterday as well, the bench had warned MoEF of adverse orders if it failed to represent itself in a case of alleged illegal mining on IAF land.