New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) was not vested with the powers to examine the validity of any law or to strike it down.
“Prima facie we are of the view the National Green Tribunal can’t strike down a law,” said Chief Justice Sharad A. Bobde, heading a bench that also comprised Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian.
The court’s observation on the limits of the powers of the green tribunal came in the course of the hearing of a petition by NGO Environment Support Group.
The Environment Support Group had challenged the Karnataka high court order transferring a case to NGT and asking it to adjudicate a
challenge to Section 40 of the Biodiversity Act that empowers the Central government to exempt certain biological resources.
Staying the proceedings before the green tribunal, the court has posted the matter for further hearing next week.
Section 40 of the Biodiversity Act reads: “Notwithstanding anything
contained in this act, the Central Government may, in consultation
with the National Biodiversity Authority, by notification in the official gazette, declare that the provisions of the act shall not apply to any items, including biological resources normally traded as commodities.”
Appearing for the NGO Environment Support Group, senior lawyer Nikhil Nayyar told the court that earlier the Supreme Court had in the Sterlite case said that the green tribunal cannot strike down rules or regulations.
The court had in its February 18, 2019, order said: “It is clear, therefore, that under the NGT Act, the tribunal exercising appellate jurisdiction cannot strike down rules or regulations … Therefore, it would be fallacious to state that the tribunal has powers of judicial review akin to that of a high court exercising constitutional powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India … We must never forget the distinction between a superior court of record and courts of limited jurisdiction.…”...