Environmental Protection Act 1986
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The United Nations Conference held in Stockholm, Sweden in June 1972 to safeguard Environmental Safety. India was also present in the meeting as a participant. The process of Environmental Safety received a major push when the Bhopal Gas Tragedy happened in 1984, leading to thousands of deaths overnight in a gas leak that happened in Bhopal. On that virtue the Act was enacted on 23th May, 1986 in the 37th year of Republic of India which is valid all over the Indian region including 28 States and 8 Union Territories.
This Act was to be known as “Environmental Protection Act”, the same was mentioned in the Gazette Notification. The Act defined various terms which included environment, environmental pollutant, environmental pollution, handling, hazardous substance, and occupier.
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Where handling covers manufacturing, processing, treatment, package, storage, transportation, collection, destruction, conversion, offering of sale and transfer of the commodities.
The Act gave supreme power to the Central government to take measures as to protect and improve the quality of Air, Water and Soil on which we are living on.
Comprising of 26 section laid under this Act, salient features are as follows:
Power of Central Government to take measures to protect & improve, abiding these Regulations includes set standards for quality of the environment in various aspects. Set Standards for emissions or discharge for environmental pollution, procedure for the safeguards of hazardous substances, monitoring of the manufacturing process linked with environmental pollution, Establishment & Recognition of environmental laboratories, Sponsoring investigations and Research Related to problems of environmental pollution (e.g. CSIR, NEERI, TERI)
Appointment of officers with their powers and function subjected to general control and direction under the Central Government. These appointed members/officers for the authority shall be public servants under the meaning of Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860). Some of the Public Servants under IPC Section 21 are Commissioned Officer in the Military, Navy and Air force. Every Judge including any person empowered by law to discharge, whether by himself or as a member of any body of persons, any adjudicatory functions. Every juryman, assessor, or member of a panchayat assisting a Court of Justice or public servant.
Powers to give direction of the Central Government includes closure, prohibition or regulation of any industry, operation or process and stoppage of the supply of electricity or water or any basic services.
Powers given to designate Authority for Entry & Inspection include the authorized person from the authority will have to act under the function of the Central Government. The person associated with inspection will have the right to inspect any equipment, industrial plant, record, register, document or any other building for the reason associated with the offence of the EPA act 1986 or whether it’ll furnish in near future. The owner or person associated with or present at the time of inspection shall provide sufficient support for the investigation, willingly or else he shall be guilty under EPA act 1986. Any seize made relevant to submit as proof for the offense made shall follow Code of Criminal Procedure Act 2 of 1974.
Powers to take sample and procedure to be followed by the Authority for Entry & Inspection. With the notice given in prior, the authorized person will have the right to collect emission data related to (air, water, soil or other substances) for analysis as per the guidelines. If the owner neglects the confirmation to be present, then sample will be collected in the presence of the in charge/ person/ agent present at the time of collection. Sample will be stored in the container/containers for which signature shall be done on the seal by both (i.e. the person in charge of the plant/ agent and the authorized official). If in charge/ person/ agent present at the time refuses to sign, the authorized official shall sign it and send the samples collected immediately to Laboratory established as per Powers of the Central government. The authorized official for sample collection shall inform the Government analyst about wilful absence of the occupier or wilful neglect for signature in writing.
Result of this analysis of sample taken shall not be admissible in evidence in any legal proceedings unless the provisions of Section 11 subsection 3 & 4 of EPA act 1986.
Penalties for Contravention of the provisions of the Act, whoever fails to safeguards the Rules and procedure for the emission be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend 5 years or fine of 100000/- Indian rupees or both. If the failure continues even after Notice issued, additional 5000/day Indian rupees shall be levied from the day during which such failure or contravention continues. If the contravention continues beyond a period of 1 year after the date of conviction, the offender shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term that may extend to 7 years.
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Cognizance of offenses
No court shall take cognizance of any offense under the EPA Act 1986, unless and until the complaint is made by the central government or any authority or officer authorized on this behalf. Any person can direct an complain in case the notice given not less than 60 days in prescribed format of the alleged offence and his intentions to make a complaint to the central government or the authority or the officer authorized.
Offenses by Governmental Department
The Head of the department shall be bounded for the punishable action unless proven the offense made was prior to his knowledge. The attributable person associated with the offense including officers from the department shall also be liable to be proceeded and punished.
Offenses by Companies
Offences committed by a company, in which each and every person who was involved and responsible for conduct of business for the company shall be guilty of the offense. If proven, person having no prior knowledge to the offense made under his name shall not be guilty. If the offense is committed intentionally as to attribute the director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such person shall be deemed to guilty for the offense and shall be punished.
Rules Made Under this Act to be laid before Parliament
Every rule made shall be laid before each House of the parliament, while its session for a total period of thirty days. Both Houses agree in making any modification in the rule or both Houses agree that the rule should not be made.