Chennai: A division bench headed by Justice K. K. Sasidharan recused itself from hearing a petition filed by Vedanta Limited, which sought a direction to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to facilitate the immediate opening of its Sterlite Plant in Thoothukudi by immediate de-sealing of the plant with restoration of supply of electricity.
When the petition came up for hearing on Tuesday, Justice K. K. Sasidharan said, "I am not hearing the matter. I am recusing from the case". He had heard the matter in Madurai bench. It was more or less like a media trial, he added.
Thereafter, the bench referred the matter to the Registry to place it before the Chief Justice for posting it before some other bench.
Accordingly, later in the evening, Chief Justice V.K.Tahilramani passed an order, posting the case before a division bench comprising Justices T. S. Sivagnanam and V.Bhavani Subbaroyan. Originally, assailing the order of closure, the Sterlite Industries had approached the National Green Tribunal, which had on December 15, 2018 directed the state government to re-open the Thoothukudi plant, which was permanently closed down from May 28, 2018. Aggrieved, the state government moved the Supreme Court, which had on February 18 set aside the orders passed by the NGT on the ground that the NGT had no jurisdiction to adjudicate the issue and pass orders for re-opening the plant. Allowing the appeals filed by the state government and the TNPCB, a division bench of the Supreme Court had held that so far as the closure order dated May 28, 2018 was concerned, this was expressly stated to be made under section 18 of the Water Act. There was no doubt whatsoever that such an order was not appealable to the NGT either under Water Act or under NGT Act, bench had added....