Pune: Soon, people from any part of the country, will be able to send an email to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) seeking justice on any environmental issues. Also, the NGT is working on introducing access to far-off areas, by providing online access to justice or online decision-making. However, former president of NGT Bar Association (western zone), Asim Sarode is not in support of the decision.
Justice AK Goel, NGT Chairperson who was speaking at a national conference recently on innovations in pollution regulation organised by the Chicago Centre. According to Sarode, India is the third country to have Environmental Justice Forum after New Zealand and Australia.
Ideally, when an environmental case is being heard in a courtroom of NGT a judge and an expert are present to take a decision, where the judge plays the role of giving decisions and the expert gives an opinion about the ecological value depending on the particular problem.
Sarode said, “The statement of Goel seems to be controversial because after Goel took over as NGT chairperson in July, the four regional benches in Pune, Bhopal, Chennai and Kolkata were closed. Also, judgments are given against the development policies of the government and they are not in accordance with the environmental law. This must be the reason behind killing the forum and starting up with the technological perspective.”
He said that to give decisions on the cases related to the environment, it was necessary to go through voluminous documents and scan the huge maps, so face-to-face courtroom arguments are more effective to decide any case on the basis of its merits. Also, the required strength of judicial members for NGT should be a minimum of 21 and a maximum of 41 for the tribunal to be effectively functional. Unfortunately, at this moment, NGT is functioning with the just six members.
Meanwhile, NGT chairperson said that people from remote parts of India would be able to send complaints through e-mails to NGT and seek justice. The tribunal will soon introduce online facilities that will enable people to send an email from mobile handset or laptop from anywhere in the country. Directions will be issued on the basis of such complaints. Sarode said, “People from remote places of the country will not necessarily know how to use mobile or laptops in a correct manner. Also, if the judgments or decisions are given online or through email, then it is not necessary that people would understand the language of law and that could create misconceptions among people.”