The Allahabad High Court has recently reiterated that a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution is maintainable against the orders passed by National Green Tribunals.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker and Justice Ashutosh Srivastava observed that the principle laid down by the Supreme Court in Madhya Pradesh High Court Advocates Bar Association as to the power of judicial review not being ousted by Section 22 of the NGT Act is in consonance with the ratio of the seven-judge bench in L. Chandra Kumar vs. Union of India.
“Undisputedly, Section 22 of the NGT Act, 2010 provides for an Appeal to the Apex Court against the order passed by the Tribunal. The Apex Court in the case of Madhya Pradesh High Court Advocates Bar Association & Another (Supra) has clearly laid down that the power of judicial review of the High Courts under Article 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India is not ousted by Section 22 of the NGT Act and remains unaffected. This proposition is in consonance with the ratio laid down by the seven Judges Bench in the Case of L.Chandra Kumar (supra). It is, however, not out of place to mention here that while a High Court would normally not exercise its writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution if an effective and efficacious alternate remedy is available, the existence of an alternate remedy does not by itself bar the High Court from exercising the jurisdiction in certain contingencies.”
In pursuance of the judgment of the Supreme Court in MC Mehta v. Union of India (1997), the Ministry of Environment and Forest constituted the Central Ground Water Authority for regulation and control of groundwater management and development. In 1999, guidelines for granting no-objection certificates for the withdrawal of groundwater by industries and projects were issued regulation of groundwater extraction.
An application was filed before NGT regarding the illegal extraction of groundwater by 122 hotels in Ghaziabad. A report was submitted before the NGT wherein it was stated that most hotels in the region were using groundwater without obtaining the necessary no-objection certificate from the Municipal Authorities. NGT directed the Regional Pollution Control Board to levy interim environmental compensation based on the number of rooms in the hotels.
The petitioner hotels approached the High Court on the grounds that they were being forced to pay a huge amount of compensation without being heard at all. The writ petition sought the quashing of this order issued by the NGT, Principal Bench, New Delhi. The order pertained to the imposition of Environmental Compensation on the petitioners based on an original application. The petitioners further contested the demand notices for compensation issued to them.
A preliminary objection was raised as to the maintainability of the writ petition in view of Section 22 of the NGT Act which provides for appeals against the order of the Tribunal.
Counsel for Petitioner relied on Madhya Pradesh High Court Advocates Bar Association and another vs. Union of India & another wherein the Apex Court had held that there is nothing contained in the language of Section 14 and Section 22 of the NGT Act which ousts the jurisdiction of the High Courts under Article 226 and Article 227.
Power of judicial review under Article 226 and Article 227 of the Constitution is a part of the part of basic structure, argued the counsel for the petitioner. The power of judicial review remains unaffected despite the existence of Section 22 of the NGT Act. Further, it was submitted that the High Court can exercise its discretion under Article 226 in accordance with the law and depending upon the facts of the case.
Noting the principle culled out with respect to the exercise of extraordinary jurisdiction in the presence of an alternate remedy, the Court held that the petition against the order of NGT is maintainable. However, the Court directed the Petitioners to approach the Joint Committee for any relief.
Case Title: M/s Hotel The Grand Tulsi and 15 Others v. State of U.P. And & others [Writ C No. 21979/2023]
Counsel for Petitioner: Anoop Trivedi, Senior Advocate assisted by Ami Tandon
Counsel for Respondent: Shambhu Chopra, Senior Advocate assisted by Mahima Jaiswal, Vimlesh Kumar Rai, Sandeep Kumar Srivastava
Click Here To Read/Download Order