The Vital Role of the National Environment Tribunal Act in Protecting Our Environment
The National Environment Tribunal Act was introduced in 1995 to provide a legal framework to assist in protecting our environment. The acts prescribed provisions for compensation if any accident results in death or injury of any person or it causes any harm to the environment. It is a powerful tool to punish offenders who fail to comply with the rules and regulations. This act ensures that decisions regarding pollution, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable development are made fairly and justly, balancing public and environmental interests. The act encourages individuals and communities to actively engage in environmental issues proactively, developing a sense of responsibility and ownership in protecting our environment. Let’s dive deep into the legal framework prescribed by the National Environment Tribunal Act and understand the procedures affecting various stakeholders involved in environmental activities.
Table of Contents
- The Vital Role of the National Environment Tribunal Act in Protecting Our Environment
- Major Provisions of the National Environment Tribunal Act
- Provision of Compensation
- How to apply for compensation under the National Environment Tribunal Act?
- Tribunal Procedure
- National Environment Tribunal
- Jurisdiction of Tribunal
- Penalty for Non-Compliance
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Major Provisions of the National Environment Tribunal Act
Some of the major provisions as prescribed under the National Environment Tribunal Act are as follows-
- Provision of Compensation
- Application Procedure for Claiming Compensation
- Tribunal Procedure for Awarding Compensation
- Establishment of the National Environment Tribunal
- Jurisdiction of Tribunal
- Penalty for Non-compliance
Provision of Compensation
The act prescribes if an accident leads to the death or injury of any person, excluding workmen, or damage to property or the environment, the owner of the place where the accident occurred is obligated to provide compensation. The compensation covers various categories mentioned below, which likely outline specific types of harm or losses for which compensation should be paid. In essence, it establishes the owner's responsibility for addressing the consequences of accidents that occur on their premises.
- Disability (permanent, temporary, total, or partial) and related medical expenses
- Loss of wages due to disability
- Damages to private property
- Government or local authority expenses for relief aid, rehabilitation, and administrative/legal actions
- Compensation for environmental degradation and restoration
- Loss to the government or local authority due to the activity causing damage
- Claims related to harm or destruction of fauna and flora
- Restoration costs for environmental damage, including pollution
- Loss and destruction of any property, excluding private property
- Loss of business or employment
- Any other claims connected to the handling of hazardous substances
How to apply for compensation under the National Environment Tribunal Act?
The act describes the process for filing a compensation claim, allowing injured individuals, property owners, legal representatives of the deceased, authorized agents, recognized environmental bodies and government authorities to apply. The Tribunal has the discretion to initiate cases, and claimants can seek additional relief under the Public Liability Insurance Act of 1991. Applications must be submitted to the Tribunal within five years of the accident, accompanied by specified details and documents, along with a prescribed fee which is waived for low-income individuals, recognized bodies, and government authorities.
After the application is filed in the tribunal, the tribunal under section 4(1) either rejects the application followed by an inquiry. In case of non-rejection the owner is informed about the application and inquiry is started. Ducting the inquiry procedure the parties are provided with due chance to be heard by the tribunal. An award is issued by the Tribunal determining the fair compensation amount and specifying the recipients. The Tribunal established under the National Environment Tribunal Act is not bound by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and it adheres to principles of natural justice and has the power to regulate its procedures. The National Environment Tribunal is endowed with powers equivalent to a civil court covering matters like summoning witnesses, document production, receiving evidence on affidavits, and more.
National Environment Tribunal
The National Environment Tribunal, established by the Central Government through notification, is outlined in sections 8 to 13. The Tribunal comprises a Chairperson, Vice-Chairpersons, Judicial Members, and Technical Members as determined by the Central Government. Benches, consisting of a Judicial Member and a Technical Member, handle the Tribunal's functions. The Chairperson can perform additional functions and transfer members between Benches. The Tribunal's Benches generally sit in New Delhi and other locations specified by the Central Government. Appointments are made by the President, with consultations for the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, and recommendations from a Selection Committee for Judicial and Technical Members. In case of a Chairperson's vacancy, the Vice-Chairperson acts, and the term of office is five years, with eligibility for reappointment. The Central Government may regulate the procedure for investigating misbehaviour or incapacity.
Jurisdiction of Tribunal
The Tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction, barring other authorities, for claims under this Act. The Chairperson can transfer cases between Benches, and decisions are made by majority opinion. Compensation for environmental damage is remitted to the Environmental Relief Fund, with specified utilization. Tribunal awards are enforceable as civil court decrees, and the Collector may execute orders related to relief under the Public Liability Insurance Act of 1991. Non-compliance leads to recovery as arrears of land revenue. Appeals against Tribunal decisions can be made to the Supreme Court within ninety days, or later with sufficient cause, but require depositing the awarded amount for appeals by liable parties.
Penalty for Non-Compliance
Those who disregard the directives of the National Environment Tribunal will be subject to legal consequences under Section 25, emphasizing the importance of complying with the Tribunal's decisions. Individuals or entities who fail to comply with a Tribunal order can be punished. It is possible to be imprisoned for up to three years and fined up to ten lakh rupees.
An offence committed by a company can also be punished and held accountable by individuals directly responsible for the company's conduct at the time of the crime. The provision includes an exemption if the individual proves a lack of knowledge or demonstrates due diligence to prevent the offence. Additionally, if the offence is committed with the consent or neglect of company directors, managers, secretaries, or other officers, they too are considered guilty and subject to punishment. This section underscores accountability at both the company and individual levels for environmental offences.
In conclusion, the National Environment Tribunal Act serves as a vital shield for our environment, offering a robust legal framework to address environmental challenges. The Act establishes a dedicated tribunal, ensuring fair and just resolutions to environmental disputes and holding property owners accountable for accidents. It promotes active engagement from individuals and communities, fostering a shared responsibility for environmental protection. The Act's major provisions, such as compensation, application procedures, and Tribunal jurisdiction, underscore its commitment to efficient resolution. The penalties for non-compliance emphasize the importance of adhering to Tribunal decisions. In navigating the Act, we empower ourselves to contribute actively to environmental preservation and promote sustainable practices for a healthier planet. The National Environment Tribunal Act serves as a guiding force in our collective journey towards environmental harmony.
This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not corpseed, and have not been evaluated by corpseed for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.
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