SC asks states to provide offices to green tribunal
New Delhi, March 15 : The Supreme Court Friday took Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal governments to task for not providing office infrastructure and other facilities necessary for the functioning of Pune, Bhopal and Kolkata benches of the National Green Tribunal.
Noting that the three states have not taken steps to make National Green Tribunal benches functional yet, a bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J.Mukhopadhaya asked Additional Solicitor General P.P. Malhotra to contact the secretary of the departments concerned to provide infrastructure for making the benches functional.
"Ensure that the benches of the NGT becomes operational... we request the ASG to contact the secretary of the concerned department and convey in no uncertain terms that they shall be personally responsible for making NGT benches functional."
"We hope that the concerned functionaries of the state would realize the importance of having the NGT benches and avoid the situation in which the court may require their presence," the court said cautioning against any inaction.
Leaving nothing to doubt, the court said that ASG Malhotra would be acting on its behalf.
Justice Singhvi said: "We have to take up the matter because we don't want people to suffer."
The court's order came on submission by senior counsel Sanjay Parikh that there were four judicial members and ten experts for the NGT. He said one of the four judges has resigned on grounds of not being provided with accommodation.
Parikh told the court that the benches of the NGT were not getting operational for the lack of office space.
Earlier, after Attorney General G.E.Vahanvati told the court that a Group of Ministers has been set up to decide on the service conditions and other facilities, including accommodations, for the judicial members, who are either retired judges of apex court or chief justices of high courts and expert members of the tribunals. Adjourning the hearing, the court said the GoM will meet early to settle the issue.
Appearing for the non-judicial members of the tribunal, Counsel A.D.N. Rao said that there could not be two sets of rules - one for the judicial members and other for the experts members of the tribunals. He told the court this dichotomy had to be removed.
Rao urged the court that non-judicial members should not be made to vacate the government accommodations which they were at present occupying.