Former Calcutta High Court Chief Justice appointed National Green Tribunal chairperson

Justice Prakash Shrivastava, who retired from the Calcutta High Court in March this year, has been appointed as the chairperson of National Green Tribunal for a period of four years.

FORMER Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court Justice Prakash Shrivastava has been appointed as the chairperson of the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

NGT is a quasi-judicial body that handles matters related to the environmental violations and disputes.

Justice Shrivastava replaces Justice Sheo Kumar Singh, a former judge of the Allahabad High Court. Justice Singh was appointed as the acting chairperson of the tribunal on July 6 this year.

Justice Shrivastava was appointed as a judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in January 2008 and became a permanent judge in January 2010.

In July 2015, as a judge of the high court, he was appointed the commissioner for the welfare of the victims of Bhopal gas leak disaster for a period of one year by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers.

In October 2021, he was appointed the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court. He retired in March this year.

Appointments to the NGT

Appointments to the NGT are notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forest And Climate Change under powers conferred by the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 read with Tribunal (Conditions of Service) Rules, 2021.

Under Section 5 of the Act, only persons who are or have been a judge of the Supreme Court or Chief Justice of a high court are eligible for appointment as chairperson of the NGT. This requirement is also provided under Rule 15 of the 2021 Rules.

Selection for the posts of chairpersons and members (expert and judicial) of the NGT is conducted by a search-cum-selection committee constituted under the Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021.

This committee consists of the following members:

  • A chairperson, who shall be the Chief Justice of India or a judge of the Supreme Court nominated by him.
  • Two members, who are secretaries to the government of India to be nominated by that government.
  • One member, who— (i) in case of appointment of a chairperson of a tribunal, shall be the outgoing chairperson of that tribunal.

(ii) in case of appointment of a member of a tribunal, shall be the sitting chairperson of that tribunal.

(iii) in case of the chairperson of the tribunal seeking re-appointment, shall be a retired judge of the Supreme Court or a retired chief justice of a high court, to be nominated by the Chief Justice of India.

According to the 2021 Act, the chairperson holds office for a term of four years or till they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier. The member of a tribunal also holds office for a term of four years, but only till they attain the age of 67 years, whichever is earlier.

Justice Shrivastava, who was born in 1961, is currently 62 years of age. He will serve as the chairperson of the NGT till August 2027, unless he retires prematurely or is removed from office.

Priorities for the NGT

Justice Shrivastava, who joined office today, is expected to have his hands full as the NGT is currently seized of environmentally significant matters related to pollution of rivers, illegal extraction of sand from riverbeds, protection of eco-sensitive zones, violation of coastal regulations and industrial pollution.

To list a few of its recent directions, last week the NGT directed the environment ministry to take “immediate measures” to identify material generated from industrial processes as either waste or as by-product.

The tribunal was hearing a plea regarding the non-implementation of the ‘Framework on Identification of Materials Generated from Industrial Processes as Wastes or By-Products’ issued by the Central Pollution Control Board.

On August 3, in response to a plea claiming illegal minerals mining by Bharatiya Janata Party member of Parliament Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh in Uttar Pradesh’s Gond district, the NGT formed a panel to verify the factual position and take remedial measures.

On July 12, the NGT formed a panel to study the impact of rising sea levels on islands and to frame a policy to protect islands from submergence, erosion, flooding and other adverse environmental outcomes. While ordering the same, the NGT had taken suo moto cognisance of a media report.

On July 6, the outgoing chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel had lamented that “one of the main challenges is enforcement, in spite of the enactment of good laws and important judicial orders.

Ultimate compliance requires awareness and initiatives at all levels and coordinated efforts of citizens and state which is an ongoing process. The judicial process must constantly endeavour to bridge the gap in the law and its enforcement,” he had said.

The Leaflet