Hit by vacancies, NGT plans to hear cases using video-conferencing
Crippled by the delay in appointment of experts and judicial members, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) is planning to conduct hearings through video-conferencing to decide the environmental cases pending in its regional benches. The NGT's functioning has been hit by vacancies. The apex environment watchdog is functioning with less than one-third of its sanctioned strength of 20 officials besides the chairperson. Here's more.
Cases from regional benches transferred to principal bench in Delhi
Recently, many cases from regional benches in Pune, Bhopal, Chennai, and Kolkata have been transferred to the principal bench in Delhi due to non-availability of judicial, expert members. Due to this, petitioners had to travel to Delhi to attend hearings which turned out to be a financial and physical burden on them. A total of 3,236 cases were pending with the tribunal till April.
Cases pending before different NGT benches
While 1,484 cases were pending before Delhi bench, the pendency of cases stood 579 at the regional bench in Chennai, 580 in Pune, 325 in Bhopal, 268 in Kolkata. A senior NGT official said the selection committee was looking into the issue and was likely to make appointments within the next month. Till then, NGT devised an interim mechanism to deal with the problem.
Hearings through video-conferencing is an interim arrangement: NGT official
"We're planning to hold court-hearings through video-conferencing in an interim basis. It's only an interim arrangement till all members are available and the regional benches become functional," the NGT official said. "The idea is in a nascent stage...we are working on the details. Access to justice is a fundamental right of every citizen. Litigants shouldn't suffer due to non-availability of judicial experts," he said.