New Delhi: In a huge setback to Sterlite Industries, the Supreme Court on Monday set aside orders passed by the National Green Tribunal directing the Tamil Nadu government to re-open the Thoothukudi plant, which is permanently closed from May 28, 2018.
A bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and Vineet Saran agreed with the contention of the Tamil Nadu government that the NGT had no jurisdiction to adjudicate the issue and pass orders for re-opening the plant.
Allowing the appeals filed by TN government and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, the bench held that so far as the closure order dated 28.05.2018 is concerned, this is expressly stated to be made under Section 18 of the Water Act. There is no doubt whatsoever that such an order is not appealable to the NGT either under the Water Act or under the NGT Act.
Justice Nariman who authored the judgment said it is clear that no appeal is provided against orders made under Section 18 of the Water Act, and the attempt to bring the NGT in by the backdoor, as it were, would, therefore, have to be rejected.
The bench said “Given the fact that we are setting aside the NGT judgments involved in these appeals on the ground of maintainability, we state that it will be open for the respondents to file a writ petition in the (Madras) high court against all the aforesaid orders. If such writ petition is filed, it will be open for Sterlite to apply for interim reliefs....