Finance Act 2017 may curtail NGT’s independence

Finance Act 2017 may curtail NGT’s independence




The Finance Act 2017 has made major changes in the appointment procedures for chairpersons and members of the numerous tribunals, including the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

Activists and environmentalists feel that the changes dilute the provisions of the NGT Act 2010 directly, affecting its independence and effectiveness.

NGT was established in October 2010 under the NGT Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection, conservation of forests and other natural resources.

But since its inception in 2010, the green tribunal, which is India’s nodal environmental court, has been at loggerheads with both Central and state governments.

For instance, in February, NGT criticized the Central government, stating that not a single drop of Ganga river has been cleaned so far, while public money is being wasted.

Changes made to NGT Act 2010 :        

The Central government added a provision in the NGT Act 2010 which states that “appointment, term of office, salaries and allowances, registration, removal and others terms and conditions of service” of NGT’s chairperson, judicial members and experts members shall be governed by section 184 of the Finance Act 2017.

Section 184 of the Finance Act clearly states that the Central government may make rules for qualification, appointment, term of office, salaries and allowance, resignation, removal and other terms and conditions of service of the chairperson and other members of the tribunals.

The government has then notified ‘The Tribunal, Appellate Tribunals and Other Authorities (Qualifications, Experiences and other conditions of service of members) Rules, 2017’.

Controversial rules in new notification:

  • NGT Act 2010 mandates that the Tribunal’s Chairperson should be either a Judge of the Supreme Court or has been a judge of the Supreme Court or is or has been Chief Justice of a High Court.

            However, the new rules does away with this requirement and now to become a chairperson, a person either “is, or has been, or is qualified to be, a Judge of Supreme Court” or “is, or has been, Chief Justice of a High Court” or “has, for a period of not less than three years, held office as Judicial Member or Expert Member” or “is a person of ability, integrity and standing, and having special knowledge of, and professional experience of not less than twenty-five years in law including five years’ practical experience in the field of environment and forests”.

  • The qualifications to become an expert or judicial member at NGT are also diluted, while giving greater bureaucratic control over the selection procedure.
  • The term of office of a member which is 5 years under the existing NGT Act, 2010 is also reduced to 3 years under the new rules.
  • Other diluted provisions are related to salary and allowance of expert and judicial members of NGT, their removal from office and sanction of leave.


Posted by Dr.Tushar Ghorpade on 25th Aug 2017