Gujarat High Court on Thursday issued notice to the Union government on a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging notification giving Pune bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) jurisdiction for cases from the state of Gujarat.
A division bench of acting chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala also issued notice to the NGT and has scheduled next hearing after a fortnight.
The PIL filed by a voluntary organisation Consumer Protection and Analytic Committee (CPAC) has challenged the notification dated August 17, 2011, issued by the Union government which stated that Pune bench established under National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 had requisite jurisdiction for the State of Gujarat.
"The Notification issued by Union government is ultravires to Constitution of India, article 14, 19 and 21, as it transfers the Original Jurisdiction of the Court’s of Gujarat (including the High Court of Gujarat) to 700 kilometers away to Pune in Maharashtra," the PIL alleged. It is also violative of the fundamental rights of the people of Gujarat, it said.
It further alleged that the Central notification failed to show any logic and reasoning why Pune was chosen instead of place situated within the Gujarat, as the concern matters deals with original remedy as well as the appellate remedy of cases in Gujarat. Such a move only benefits industrial concerns who will be benefitted by less litigation as only few people will go to file cases at such long distances, it said.
"In law, original jurisdiction cannot be taken away outside the State otherwise very purpose of establishing State is diluted," the PIL stated.
The PIL has sought that the Central government notification dated August 17, 2011 be declared unconstitutional and set aside. It has also sought direction for the NGT to establish a bench in state of Gujarat.
The acts which fall under the jurisdiction of NGT include Water Act, 1974, Water Cess Act 1977, Forest Act 1980, Air Act, 1981, Environment Protection Act, 1986, Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 and Biodiversity Act, 2002.
The NGT was in October 2010, for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.