The National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995

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The National Environment Tribunal Act was enacted by the parliament on 17th  June 1995, India faces many environmental issues due to growing population as population been the major cause not only to the environmental degradation by causing pollution but also acts as major participation in environmental accidents. India been a participant of the United Nations Conference which held in the year 1992, it considered to implement the Tribunal regarding the protection of environment and payment of compensation to persons, property and the environment. Tribunal constituted under Act to dispose the matter connected with environment issues and compensation thereon.

National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995 consists of 31 Sections to fulfill the broad objectives laid under Act. As the Act enacted with a broad objective to provide compensation to person who got injured, the owner has to pay compensation under Section 3, where there been damage caused to the environment and the death or injury has been resulted due to the accident. The person can make application with respect to claim for compensation to the Tribunal under provision as specified under Section 4(1), Tribunal while dealing with the application of compensation as specified in the provisions of Act shall exercise the same jurisdiction and authority as that of matters as specified in Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991. Owner who responsible for the environmental accident is liable to pay compensation not only under National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995, but also liable to pay relief specified under the provisions of Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991and the relief paid be substantiated by the compensation paid.

Central Government to exercise the jurisdiction and powers conferred under the provisions of the Act established a Tribunal known as the National Environment Tribunal under Section 8. Tribunal to perform its functions laid in the Act has certain members in its composition, the composition of Tribunal includes the Chairperson, Vice-chairperson, other members and the Benches under the Act has the power to exercise the authority, jurisdiction and powers of Tribunal. As Qualification matters in any office, matter dealt in the Tribunal being a sensitive issue related to environment, person appointed as members should have higher qualification to the specified post. Person appoints as a member only if they satisfies the criteria laid under Section 10 of the Act, person appointed as a Chairperson unless he been a Judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court and regarding Vice-Chairperson and Judicial member person must be a High Court Judge or member of the Indian Legal service specified under Act. Members of the Tribunal holds office for a term of five years as laid in Section 12 and they can also resign their respected offices by writing it to the president and president has the authority to remove any member from the office if he thinks the member as unfit for the post or proved by misbehavior. President can remove any member from office by making a order against the member and the order must pass after proper inquiry and investigation made by the Supreme Court Judge, under Section 13 (3) Central Government can make rules and regulations regarding the process of inquiry and investigation made under Section 13(2).

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Tribunal after the commencement of the Act has a specific jurisdiction to deal with the matters relating to the application, claim of compensation. Under Section 23, Tribunal has powers as of Civil Court in matters connected under the provisions of Act, and award made by Tribunal executable as like a decree passed in Civil Court. If the order made by the Tribunal not compiled by the owner, Tribunal can recover the order amount from the owner as arrear of land revenue. Tribunal Constituted under Act has the authority to punish the person who contravene the provisions laid under Act and persons who responsible for environmental hazardous. Any person whoever fails to comply with the order of Tribunal be punishable for a extending term of three years or fine up to ten lakh rupees or both based on the guilt.

Indian Penal Code has its wide functioning under the Act as all members of Tribunal deemed to come under the purview of Public Servants under Section 21 of Code and all proceeding taken under the provisions of the enacted Act comes under the term of Judicial proceedings as specified in Section 193, 219, and 228 of Code. Central Government by notification in the Official Gazette has power to make rules regarding the provisions of the Act as specified under Section 31 (2). Central Government has authority to go through whether the compensation amount credited to Environment Relief Fund be fully utilized under Section 22 (2).

Act been a special legislation deal with the matter of environment issues and compensation thereon. Act though has the authority to punish the person whoever been contravened to the provisions laid under Act relating to protection of environment; it has failed to fulfills its responsibilities and objectives laid. As India been a heavily populated country it needs a strong law to deal with the environmental issues.

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by Priyadarshini Chandrasekar