Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal: A Coram of Adarsh Kumar Goel, J. (Chairperson) and S.P. Wangdi, Judicial Member, K. Ramakrishnan, Judicial Member and Dr Nagin Nanda, Expert Member directed the polluting units in the States of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh to take steps suggested by the Oversight Committee within the prescribed timelines and to ensure adherence to such timelines.

In the main application, the issue of pollution caused by the Thermal Power Plants by the discharge of mercury, storage of fly ash, transportation of coal, and others in the districts of Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh and Sonebhadra in Uttar Pradesh was raised before the Tribunal. As a result, a Core Committee was constituted which via its report of February 2018 gave some recommendations to deal with the issue.

To comply with these recommendations of the Core Committee, an Oversight Committee was constituted by the Tribunal in its previous order. The said committee gave the status of compliance with the recommendations of the Core Committee. The Ash Water Recycling Systems and Electrostatic Precipitators were reported functional, Online Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems were connected to the Central Pollution Control Board/State Pollution Control Board servers, ash ponds were still illegally overflowing in the Rihand reservoir, and others. In its conclusion, the Committee reported that, “the Committee has deliberated all the issues with Private stakeholders (Industries), Public Sector Units (TPPs, NCL), NGOs and local District Administrations. The status of the outcome of meetings and field visits are tabulated above. Time line has been defined for compliance of each direction issued by Hon’ble NGT. The follow-up is needed by the Oversight Committee with stakeholders through meetings and field visits for timely implementation of various directions.” The Committee also named some other thermal power plants and stone crushers in other districts of the State of Uttar Pradesh where similar problems existed and due attention was required.

The Tribunal accepted the recommendations of the Oversight Committee and requested it to pursue similar issues at the other places as well. It noted that Central and State Pollution Control Boards (CPCB & SPCB) have the statutory power to take remedial steps to check air and water pollution. It further ordered the polluting units to furnish Performance Guarantees at the satisfaction of CPCB to the extent assessed by the Committee. It further directed Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) and Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) to furnish the existing status of ambient air quality and water quality of Rihand reservoir and other water bodies including groundwater, to the Oversight Committee. Directions were also given to the State Health Secretaries of MP and UP to provide a report on the health status of the citizens of the affected areas and the trends of diseases relating to pollution to the Committee at the earliest. Tribunal also ordered for a long term plan for providing potable water through pipelines, on priority.[Ashwani Kumar Dubey v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine NGT 61, decided on 03-01-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the Government of India order, by which the colleges/institutions have been directed not to admit students in the MBBS Course in the academic years 2017-18 and 2018-19, the 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, Amitava Roy and A.M. Khanwilkar, JJ said that a reasonable opportunity of hearing contained in the proviso to Section 10A(4) of Medical Council Act, 1956 is an indispensable pre-condition for disapproval by the Central Government of any scheme for establishment of a medical college and hence the Central Government should consider afresh the materials on record pertaining to the issue of confirmation or otherwise of the letter of permission granted to the petitioner colleges/institutions.

The Court further said that the Supreme Court Mandated Oversight Committee is empowered to oversee all statutory functions under the Act, and further all policy decisions of the MCI would require its approval and that its recommendations, to state the least, on the issue of establishment of a medical college, can by no means be disregarded or left out of consideration. The Court clarified that the Oversight Committee is also empowered the Oversight Committee to issue appropriate remedial directions.

The order that was challenged was the order dated 31.05.2017 of the Government of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Department of Health and Family Welfare) whereby the conditional permission for the establishment of the medical colleges for the academic year 2016-17, granted on the basis of the approval of the Supreme Court Mandated Oversight Committee had been cancelled and the colleges have been debarred from admitting students in the next two academic years i.e. 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Asking the Central Government to re-evaluate the recommendations/views of the MCI, Hearing Committee, DGHS and the Oversight Committee, as available on records, the Court directed that the process of hearing and final reasoned decision should be completed within 10 days. The matter will next be taken up on 24.08.2017. [Glocal Medical College and Super Speciality Hospital & Research Centre v. UOI, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 846, order dated 01.08.2017]