The Honourable NGT had passed an order on 18-01-2022, in the matter of O.A. No. 164/2018 (Ashwini Kumar Dubey vs Union of India) and other connected matters related to pollution control and fly ash management from thermal power plants. The said order relied on the recommendations made by a NGT constituted committee and issued specific directions to individual thermal power plants along with directions imposing environmental compensation for restoration and timely installation of Pollution Control Systems, timely utilisation and disposal of fly ash.
Appeals were filed against these directions at the Honourable Supreme Court in the matter of Civil Appeal No. 3856/2022 (Singrauli Sugar Thermal Power Station vs Ashwani Kr. Dubey and others) with C.A. No. 4579/2022, C.A. No. 4525/2022 and C.A. No. 4581 of 2022 and a judgement passed on 05-07-2023 by the Honourable Supreme Court.
During arguments before the Honourable Supreme Court, it was raised that the proceedings of the NGT are judicial proceedings and compliance of principles of natural justice is a hall mark of all judicial proceedings. It was also put forth that in the instant case, while the NGT was fully competent to constitute an expert committee yet on receipt of the committee report, it was necessary that the alleged violators were given an opportunity to object to the said report and the NGT ought to have passed orders after consideration of the objections filed by each industry. The arguments further pointed out that as per section 19(1) of the NGT Act, the Tribunal though not bound by the procedure laid down by the code of civil procedure, 1908 shall still be guided by the principle of natural justice. No opportunity was provided to the industries to file their objections to the report submitted by the Committee.
Finding substance in the arguments as above, the Honourable Supreme Court has observed that in not giving an opportunity to file objections there has been a complete noncompliance of the principles of Natural Justice and has set aside the orders of the NGT passed on 18-01-2022. It has remanded to the NGT for reconsideration from the stage of the recommendations filed by the expert committee constituted by the NGT and allowed filing of objections if advised so by the NGT. It has also directed that the NGT shall consider the objections, if any filed to the recommendations and thereafter dispose the applications in accordance with law.