New Delhi: The government got reprimanded by the Supreme Court on not providing the effective functioning of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that deals with environmental matters on Wednesday.
The court asked the government to provide facilities to its judicial and other expert members on a par with the judges of High Courts.
An apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya asked the government to ensure the “Effective functioning of the tribunal by providing all the facilities and amenities to the judicial members, who are former judges of the high court at par with the sitting judges, except the element of pension, and also to the expert members.”
The court said that the judicial members of the NGT could not be treated below their status as they had been the judges of high courts or the apex court. A former apex court judge is the chairman of the tribunal.
“They (member of the NGT) must function with dignity,” said Justice Singhvi.
The court said this recounting an incident when a sick tribunal member was told that he was entitled to treatment under the Central Government Health Scheme at par with Class 1 officer of the government.
As court expressed its displeasure, Solicitor General Rohinton Nariman sought a week’s time so that he could get back with the government response.
The court in the course of the proceedings asked about the appointment of the chairpersons of the NGT and allotment of Faridkot House in central Delhi for accommodating the tribunal.
The additional affidavit filed by the government said that NGT had four judicial members and three expert members.
The court was told that department of personnel and training had approved three names to fill the slot of three expert members. The court was told that one of the judicial members had consented to join the NGT.
The court also took note of the assurance given by Additional Solicitor General A.S. Chandhiok that he would ask the department concerned to issue an order for allotment of Faridkot House to the tribunal following the court’s order dated May 3, 2005.
The court was also told that the accommodation made available to the Bhopal bench of NGT was not at all conducive to the functioning of green tribunal.
Seniors counsel Raj Panjwani, appearing for the Bar Association of National Green Tribunal, told the court that the accommodation made available to the Bhopal bench was in the ‘basement of a building’ and it was ‘impossible for the tribunal to function’.
Expressing anguish that it was misled by the state government, Justice Singhvi said, “We can’t appreciate that a misleading statement was made before the highest court that sufficient accommodation has been provided to the Bhopal bench of NGT.”
“A false affidavit was filed before the apex court. Accommodation does not mean basement,” he said.
The court ordered the state chief secretary to file an affidavit.
The court directed the listing of the matter by September 26.