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Supreme Court notice on plea challenging NGT order against unrestricted use of plastic in packaging

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The Supreme Court today issued notice on a plea challenging the order of the National Green Tribunal stating the Tribunal failed to exercise its jurisdiction under Section 14 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 despite the serious issues of public health and the environment raised in relation to the unregulated and indiscriminate use of plastic in packaging.

A divisional bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice M.R. Shah noted, “We’ll issue notice, NGT has jurisdiction, they cannot let it go like this.” The appeal has been filed by Him Jagriti Uttaranchal Welfare Society stating, “The Ld. Tribunal abdicated its function as an expert adjudicatory body on the environment by failing to consider the issues raised in the application, when extensive evidence was placed on the record to show the harmful effects of excessive use of plastics in packaging on the health of consumers, due to the leaching of toxic substances.”

Reading the NGT’s observations, Justice Chandrachud said, “The Central Government’s report itself has said about its adverse affects.”

The NGT observed, “In view of revision of the pharmacopeia, the adverse health effects of plastic packaging has been regulated to an extent. While further steps may be desirable, the same need to be considered in phases as may be found viable. The matter being required to be primarily dealt with by the concerned Executive authorities, we do not consider it necessary to pass any further order in exercise of jurisdiction under Sections 14 and 15 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. However, it is necessary to ensure that compliance of the norms is duly monitored at appropriate level of the Health Ministry to safeguard the health of the citizens.”

Whereas, the plea submitted before the Supreme Court said, “Despite arriving at the conclusion that there were adverse effects of plastic packaging on human health, the Ld. Tribunal held that it was not necessary to pass any further orders as the matter would be dealt with by the concerned executive authorities.”

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“Considering the inaction of the executive authorities over the seven years that the matter has been pending before the Ld. NGT, leaving it to them to deal with the serious issues raised would be a futile exercise. The Ld. Tribunal’s failure to adjudicate on the matter, which was pending before it since 2014, has caused further delay, only exacerbating the harmful effects on the health of consumers,” the plea added.

The Apex Court, however, issued notice while directing the parties to file counter and posted the matter for further hearing after 6 weeks.

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