Supreme Court: The Division Bench of Sanjiv Khanna and S.V.N. Bhatti, JJ. ordered a stay on the judgment and order passed by the National Green Tribunal (‘NGT’) on 21-08-2023 for lodging criminal complaint against Chhattisgarh Environment Conservation Board (‘CECB’) officials as per Section 30 of National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 (‘NGT Act’) for offence under Section 26.
The matter before NGT pertained to non-compliance of directions issued by the Central Pollution Control Board (‘CPCB’) vide letter dated 5-02-2014 requiring all the State Pollution Control Boards (‘SPCB’) under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution), Act 1981 to install online effluent quality and emission monitoring systems by all State Pollution Control Boards for 17 categories of highly polluting industries, Common Effluent Treatment Plants (‘CETP’), Common Bio Medical Waste and Common Hazardous Waste Incinerators as per the order passed in Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti v. Union of India, (2017) 5 SCC 326.
The NGT matter particularly revolved around States of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh for the Online Continuous Emission and Effluent Monitoring system (‘OCEMS’) not functioning properly, wherein, the NGT had sought status report. CECB informed the NGT that OCEMS could not be made fully functional due to certain compliance issues, which was followed by NGT directing CPCB to properly monitor functioning of OCEMS and submit reports for States of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
While states of MP and Rajasthan showed better performance in compliance with NGT’s directions dated 3-02-2023, Chhattisgarh lagged behind and sought further 12 months’ period for compliance, which led to passing of impugned order dated 21-08-2023 wherein, NGT highlighted the serious functional irregularity in efficiency and competence on part of CECB officials, holding them guilty of offence under Section 26 of NGT Act for failure to comply with NGT order, accompanied with directions for Secretary to MoEF&CC to lodge a criminal complaint before Competent Court of Magistrate against the CECB Chairman and Member Secretary in accordance with Section 30 of NGT Act.
However, the Supreme Court in the instant mater ordered a stay on NGT’s directions for lodging prosecution against CECB officials and directed the CECB officials to file an affidavit stating the compliances made, while expressing that penalty or fine may be imposed by the Court in case of delay in compliances.
[P. Arun Prasad v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1352, Order dated 9-10-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For Petitioners: Advocate on Record Abhinay, Advocate Parul Khurana, Advocate Deeksha Prakash, Advocate P.C. Roy, Advocate L.K. Srivastava, Advocate Sakshi Jain
For Respondents: Advocate on Record Vikrant Pachnanda, Advocate Mukul Katyal