Techi Tagi Tara v. Rajendra Singh Bhandari - Supreme Court Important Judgment
Techi Tagi Tara v. Rajendra Singh Bhandari - Supreme Court Important Judgment 2017 -
On 22nd September, 2017, in the case of Techi Tagi Tara v. Rajendra Singh Bhandari & Ors. [Civil Appeal No. 1359 of 2017], the Supreme Court observed that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had exceeded its jurisdiction in directing the State Governments to reconsider the appointment of some persons to the State Pollution Boards (SPCBs) and in laying down guidelines for appointment to the SPCBs.
However, the Supreme Court also observed that such appointments “should not be made casually or without due application of mind considering the duties, functions and responsibilities of the SPCBs” and “there should be considerable deliberation before an appointment is made and only the best should be appointed to the SPCB. It is necessary in this regard for the Executive to consider and frame appropriate rules for the appointment of such persons who would add lustre and value to the SPCB.”
It was held that “the appointment of the Chairperson and members of the SPCBs cannot be classified in any circumstance as a substantial question relating to the environment. At best it could be a substantial question relating to their appointment. Moreover, their appointment is not a dispute as one would normally understand it.”
It was held that the appointments concerned were not ‘disputes’ as such or even disputes for the purposes of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 and “they could be disputes for a constitutional court to resolve through a writ of quo warranto, but certainly not for the NGT to venture into. The failure of the State Government to appoint professional and experienced persons to key positions in the SPCBs or the failure to appoint any person at all might incidentally result in an ineffective implementation of the Water Act and the Air Act, but this cannot be classified as a primary dispute over which the NGT would have jurisdiction. Such a failure might be of a statutory obligation over which, in the present context and not universally, only a constitutional court would have jurisdiction and not a statutory body like the NGT.”
On being informed that some States have implemented the order of the NGT and removed some members while others have approached the Supreme Court and obtained an interim stay order, the Supreme Court observed that “those officials who were removed pursuant to the order of the NGT (including the appellant Techi Tagi Tara) have an independent cause of action” and it is “open to them to challenge their removal in appropriate and independent proceedings.” On the grievance relating to the issue of guidelines by the NGT, the Supreme Court observed that “this is for each State Government to consider and decide what is the right thing to do under the circumstances” and “that in matters relating to the protection and preservation of the environment (through the appointment of officials to the SPCBs) the Central Government as well as the State Governments have to walk the extra mile.”
Accordingly, while setting aside the judgment and order of the NGT, the Supreme Court directed “the Executive in all the States to frame appropriate guidelines or recruitment rules within six months, considering the institutional requirements of the SPCBs” and the law laid down by statute, by the Supreme Court and as per the reports of various committees and authorities and ensure that suitable professionals and experts are appointed to the SPCBs.