‘Isn’t NGT for ordinary citizens?’: SC questions tribunal taking up lawmakers’ letters

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it thought the jurisdiction of the National Green Tribunal was available for ordinary persons, or those who could not move the courts, as it expressed surprise at the tribunal considering letter petitions by lawmakers.

A vacation bench of Justices B.R. Gavai and Hima Kohli said: “What is this, the National Green Tribunal is also entertaining letters from Members of Parliament.

“We thought that this jurisdiction was available for have-nots..Ordinary citizens and not legislators.”

The top court made these observations while hearing an appeal by the Andhra Pradesh government challenging an order by the NGT, which stopped construction at Rushikonda Hills abutting the beach in Visakhapatnam.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Andhra Pradesh government, submitted that the tourism project was in public interest and more than 300 people have been employed and Rs 180 crore already invested.

The bench sought a copy of the judgment, which said that the NGT is a tribunal subordinate to the high court under Article 227 of the Constitution. Singhvi sought some time to find more information in the matter. The bench scheduled the matter for further hearing on Wednesday.

The tribunal’s order, passed earlier this month, had come on a petition filed by MP K. Raghu Ramakrishna Raju, alleging violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms by the project.

The NGT also set up a joint committee to look into the environmental viability of the project and whether CRZ clearances should be revisited.

It was alleged that the master plan notified by the Urban Development Department was violated and the petitioner claimed the area was also environmentally sensitive.




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