On Thursday, the Apex Court termed as “appalling” situation on the vacancy in the NGT& directed the Govt to notify all the existing vacancies at one go in the next 6 months.
A 3-Judge bench comprising Justice A M Khanwilkar, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari & Justice Sanjiv Khanna noted that as of today, there are about fourteen vacancies (7 judicial members & 7 technical members).
Expressing concern over vacancies, the Supreme Court said that the National Green Tribunal is presently functioning with the strength of only 7 Judges (1 chairman, 3 judicial members & 3 technical members) despite the mandate of the NGT Act to ensure that the minimum number of members shall not be less than 10.
The Bench said that “This is an appalling situation concerning the premier institution such as National Green Tribunal, which is required to deal with environmental issues. That cannot be countenanced”.
The Supreme Court said it was conscious of the reply filed by the Union of India in which assurance has been given that notification for filling up nine vacancies is being issued by the end of July 2020.
The Bench said that “That, in our opinion, is not enough. We deem it appropriate to direct the Union of India to notify all the existing vacancies at one go (of seven judicial members & seven technical members), including the anticipated vacancies likely to take place in the next six months”.
It directed that the notification be issued not later than ten days from today & whereafter the process for selection/appointment be expedited.
“Until the proposed selection process culminates with appointment order(s) of the concerned candidates against the existing vacancies, the members presently in office as on this date but are likely to retire shortly, shall continue to hold office in terms of this order & discharge their functions accordingly,” the bench said & posted the matter for hearing on Aug 13.
The Supreme Court was hearing a plea filed by bar body NGT Bar Association (western zone) regarding vacancies in the NGT & seeking expeditious appointments.
Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel is the current Chairperson of NGT.
India’s top environmental watchdog NGT was established on Oct 18, 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 for effective & expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection & conservation of forests & other natural resources.