Changes in the composition of the selection committee for NGT appointments and in qualification and removal of chairpersons were brought about through the Finance Bill 2017
Hearing the petition against changing the rules for appointment and termination of members to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) today, July 28, the Supreme Court issued notice to the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Law and Justice.
The changes in the composition of the selection committee for the appointments to NGT as well as the criterion for qualification and removal of chairpersons were brought about through the Finance Bill 2017.
A petition was filed challenging the changes by non-profit Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE) on July 20. The petition calls the bill unconstitutional and excessive delegation of power to the Centre.
The petition says that the Finance Bill was “unconstitutionally certified as a ‘Money Bill’ by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, and thereby passed by bypassing the requirement for all bills except money bills to get the assent of both houses of Parliament.” It further mentions that the change under the Finance Bill, “delegates to the Central government the wide, unbridled and unguided power to frame rules for inter alia, the qualifications, appointment, removal and other terms and conditions of service of the members constituting the tribunals.”
The changes under the bill were seen by many green activists as an attempt to undermine the NGT’s authority.
“We asked the bench to put a stay on the changes as the appointment of the new members is due in five months. Now the ministries have to respond within two weeks after which they’ll have to be present in the next hearing,” Ruchira Goel, counsel for SAFE told Down to Earth.
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