New Delhi [India], March 25 (ANI): Supreme Court on Friday set aside a National Green Tribunal Act's order prohibiting the operation of industries in Haryana, which did not have prior Environmental Clearance (EC).
A Bench of Justice Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwari allowed the appeal of companies against an order dated June 3, 2021, passed by the Principal Bench of the NGT.
NGT had held that establishments such as the manufacturing units of the appellants, which did not have prior Environmental Clearance (EC) could not be allowed to operate.
The court opined that the NGT erred in law in directing that the units cannot be allowed to function till compliance with the statutory mandate.
"It is reiterated that the 1986 Act does not prohibit ex post facto EC. Some relaxations and even grant of ex post facto EC in accordance with the law in strict compliance with Rules, Regulations, Notifications and/or applicable orders, in appropriate cases, where the projects are in compliance with environmental norms, is not impermissible," the court said.
"As observed by this court in Electrosteel Steels Limited (supra), this court cannot be oblivious to the economy or the need to protect the livelihood of hundreds of employees and others employed in the units and dependent on the units in their survival," the court said.
The court further added that ex post facto EC should not ordinarily be granted, and certainly not for the asking.
"At the same time ex post facto clearances and/or approvals cannot be declined with pedantic rigidity, regardless of the consequences of stopping the operations," the court said.
Allowing the appeal, the court set aside the order.
The bench directed the concerned authorities to take a decision on the applications of the Appellants for EC in accordance with law within one month from the date.
"Pending decision, the operation of the Pahwa Yamuna Nagar Unit and the Apcolite Yamuna Nagar Unit, in respect of which consents have been granted and even public hearing held in connection with the grant of EC, shall not be interfered with," the court said.
The appellants had argued that whether an establishment employing about 8000 workers, which has been set up pursuant to Consent to Establish (CTE) and Consent to Operate (CTO)
from the concerned statutory authority and has applied for ex post facto EC can be closed down pending issuance of EC, even though it may not cause pollution and/or maybe found to comply with the required pollution norms.
The court said that the appellants will be allowed to operate the units.
"Electricity, if disconnected, shall be restored subject to payment of charges, if any. If the application for EC is rejected on the ground of any contravention on the part of the Appellants, it will be open to the Respondents to disconnect the supply of electricity," the top court said.
It observed that the Union of India had proceeded with the application for EC and even public hearing had been held, and the counsel appearing on behalf of the Union of India contended that the appellant had not submitted its final application for EC, after the public hearing.
The court said that it is not clear what more was required of the appellants.
"Be that as it may, the Union of India shall, within three working days from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment and order, inform the Appellants in writing of whether anything further is required to be done by the Appellants, and if so what is required to be done. The Appellants shall, within a week thereafter do the needful. The final decision on the application of the Appellants for EC shall be taken within three weeks thereafter," the court said. (ANI)