Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Supreme Court closes intervention plea seeking transfer of all cases pertaining to Western Zone to Pune Bench

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The Supreme Court on Monday closed the invention application filed by the National Green Tribunal Bar Association (Western Zone) seeking transfer of all cases pertaining to the Western Zone from the Principal Bench of NGT, New Delhi to the Tribunal’s Western Zone Bench at Pune.

The Bench of Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Aravind Kumar closed the intervention application, after Senior Advocate Arvind P Datar, representing the NGT, apprised the Bench that an affidavit has been filed in the matter, stating that all cases pertaining to Western Zone have been transferred to the western bench, including the old matters. 

The IA had alleged that despite a specific mandamus by the Apex Court that all matters pertaining to the western zone be heard by the Pune bench, the NGT Principal Bench was allegedly continuing to hear cases, in which it had taken suo motu cognisance.

The development follows the April 11 order of the Supreme Court, in which this court had warned the Principal Bench of NGT that contempt proceedings would be initiated against it for its defiance of the top court’s October 2022 order. 

The IA was disposed of on the grounds that in view of the affidavit filed by the Registrar of the National Green Tribunal, the grievance of the applicant no longer survived. 

Advocate Ninad Laud, appearing for the National Green Tribunal Bar Association (Western Zone), urged the court to record the [relevant portion] in the application and disposed it of.

However, concerns were raised over the order by Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, who represented environmental action group Goa Foundation over the ‘vagueness’ of the transfers referred to by the Principal Bench in the affidavit filed by the Registrar of the Tribunal. 

She said there was a lack of clarity in the paragraph, which said that the cases have been transferred, but they have not mentioned to which bench.

The Supreme Court then assured her that there won’t be any problems, stating that some observations made by the bench on the last date of hearing were communicated by Advocate Datar. 

Justice Gavai then said that he did not mean any disrespect, but there must be certain judicial discipline.

While the intervention application was disposed of, the main petition was kept pending for deliberation, to settle the law after two ‘conflicting’ judgements were given on certain rules made under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. The next date of hearing in the matter will take place in August.

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