National Green Tribunal (NGT), Delhi: A Coram of Justice Raghuvendra S. Rathore (Judicial Member) and Dr Satyawan Singh Garbyal (Expert Member) allowed an appeal filed for condonation of delay by exercising the discretionary authority vested to them.

In this case, an Environment Clearance Certificate (EC) was granted by Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEF & CC) and thereafter, on the 90th day from issuance of the EC, this appeal was filed. However, the specified limit allows an appeal to be filed within a span of 30 days and it can be allowed for further 60 days only if the Tribunal is convinced by the reason of that delay.

Learned counsels for the appellant, Ritwick Dutta, Saurabh Sharma and Sharan Balakrishna pleaded that limitation in this case for the purpose of filing of the appeal commences on the date when the appellant had the knowledge about the issuance of EC. It was contended that for the appellant a communication of issuance of an EC for the purpose of knowledge to the public including the appellant is when the proper procedure for bringing the same in public domain is followed. In this regard, he submitted that the public notice in respect of EC was published in the newspaper only on 02-03-2018. Further, it was submitted that the said notice did not give complete details. It was submitted on behalf of the appellant that after getting the information the appellant for the purpose of filing of appeal had started collecting the relevant documents etc. On the premise of the said submissions, the learned counsels for the appellants prayed that the delay in filing the appeal be condoned as it was within limitation from the date of publication in the newspaper and even otherwise there was sufficient cause for filing the appeal on the 90th day from date of issuance of EC.

Learned counsels for the respondent,  Yogmaya Agnihotri, Mahindra Acharya, Vishal Bhatnagar, Mahavir Rawat, Mr. Tarkeshwar Nath and Sahil Sood opposed the prayer of the appellant and submitted that the grounds given in the application had not been supported by any evidence on record to corroborate the facts which are said to be material in respect of the delay which has been caused in filing the appeal. It was also been submitted that the averments made in the application are not sufficient and therefore the Tribunal may not condone the delay and the appeal be declined to be entertained on account of the fact that it is barred by limitation.

The Tribunal observed that as far as the submissions made by the appellant with regard to the publication of the notice in the newspaper is concerned, putting the fact of issuance of EC in public domain and uploading the same on the internet by the Ministry is sufficient communication to the public at large. The Tribunal further observed that the present case was not one where there was no cause/reason given for the delay. The events of the intervening period had been explained and therefore, they were of the opinion that the question raised in the appeal should be considered and decided on merits. Consequently, Tribunal allowed the application for condonation of delay. It was ordered that the appeal be listed for consideration on merits.[Laxmi Chouhan v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine NGT 116, decided on 24-05-2019]

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