Thursday, March 30, 2023

SC Refuses To Interfere In NGT Order On Vizag Gas Leak Probe

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday has refused to interfere with NGT’s order forming a fact-finding committee to look into the Vizag Gas leakage tragedy at LG Polymer earlier this month that claimed 11 lives and left over two dozens maimed or grievously injured.

LG Polymer had questioned before the Supreme Court the setting up of several committees by the Andhra Pradesh High Court, the National Human Rights Commission and the Central government to look into the matter. The NGT had recommended the formation of a committee headed by  former judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court B Seshasayana Reddy  to look into the gas leakage incident of May 7.

The apex court said today that the matter can be raised before the NGT on June 1. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had directed LG Polymers India to deposit an initial amount of ₹50 crore for the damage caused. The green panel also constituted a five-member fact-finding committee, to be headed by a former A.P. High Court judge, to probe the incident and furnish a report to the tribunal.

Today, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohtagi informed the Court that they have deposited the amount of 50 crore as ordered by the NGT, but the question is of Committee constituted by the NGT. Our plant is closed and committee constituted by NGT visited the plant three time without any prior notice, he contended.

Whether NGT can order Suo Motu proceeding, when it does not have a jurisdiction asked Sr adv Mukul Rohtagi to which Justice Lalit replied, Jurisdiction issue can be raised before the NGT. “Since the matter is seized with the NGT, we grant liberty to petitioner to raise arguments before NGT when it is listed on June 1,” said the three- judge bench of Justices UU Lalit, Mohan M Shatanangoudar & Vineet Saran.

The Court noted in its order, “In Compliance of the NGT Order, the appellant has deposited an amount of 50 crore. questions raised by the appellant are purely legal in nature. Give liberty to appellant before NGT to raise the appropriate concerns before the next date which is 1st June, 2020.”

“The committee may specifically report on the sequence of events, causes of failure and persons and authorities responsible, extent of damage to life, human and non-human, public health and environment – including water, soil and air, steps to be taken for compensation of victims and restitution of the damaged property and environment and the cost involved,” the NGT bench had said.

The directions came after the green panel took suo motu cognisance of the gas leak incident that left at least 11 people dead and affected several others.

-India Legal Bureau

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