Justice Swatanter Kumar has been chairing the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for nearly two years now. In an interview to Down To Earth, he speaks about some basic issues confronting the tribunal
How far do you think NGT has succeeded in fulfilling its mandate of providing speedy justice?
NGT has contributed considerably to the mandate of speedy justice in resolving environmental disputes. Our target is to dispose of cases within six months, and NGT has been successful in achieving this target in most cases. The Sterlite case and Meghalaya rat hole mining cases are two examples.
NGT has reiterated that Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is a mere funding body for it. Do you think that MoEF&CC is trying to create hurdles in the working of NGT?
No. Over a period of time, MoEF&CC has realised that NGT needs to grow. There has been a substantial leap in the funding directed to NGT. It has increased manifold from Rs 8 crore to Rs 34 crore.
The Madras High Court restrained NGT from exercising suo motu jurisdiction. What do you think about it?
Suo motu jurisdiction has to be an integral feature of NGT for better and effective functioning of the institution. In the Constitution of India, the high courts also have not been exclusively conferred suomotu jurisdiction. However, the high courts have been exercising the same. There are some inherent powers which are vital for effective functioning and suomotu jurisdiction is one such power.
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