Report No. 186
In this context, several important questions arise for consideration:
(a) In as much as the proposed changes in law, in some respects, (like water) relate to entries in List II of the VII Schedule to the Constitution, can Parliament enact a law under Article 253 of the Constitution for constituting Environmental Courts both in the States as well as the Centre, without the need for legislation by States or even resolutions of State legislatures under Article 252?
(b) Should there be one Environment Court in each State?
(c) Should these Courts oust the jurisdiction of the High Courts/Supreme Court or should it be left to the discretion of these superior Courts to direct parties to first exhaust (seek) the effective alternative remedy before the proposed Environmental Courts? Should the jurisdiction of normal civil and criminal courts be totally ousted?
(d) Is there need for a further Environmental Appellate Court at Delhi exercising jurisdiction over the State Environmental Courts or should there be a direct appeal to the Supreme Court from the State Environmental Courts?
(e) What should be the nature of the jurisdiction of the State Environmental Courts.- should it be only appellate jurisdiction against orders of administrative or public authorities and 9government but also original jurisdiction, so as to reduce the burden of PILs in the High Courts?
(f) What should be the composition of the Courts and qualification of the Members?
(g) What should be the procedure of these Environmental Courts?
(h) Should public interest or class actions cases be allowed before the these Courts?
(i) What relief these Courts should be able to gran.- ad interim, final, injunctions (permanent and mandatory), appointment of receivers, grant of compensation/damages etc.?
(j) Should they exercise civil as well as criminal jurisdiction?
(k) What is the mode of execution of the orders?
(l) Should the Court have power to punish wilful disobedience of its orders by exercising power of contempt of Court?
(m) Should the National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995 and the National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997 be repealed and powers and jurisdiction of the tribunals thereunder be vested in the proposed State Environmental Courts?
These and various other aspects concerning Environmental Courts are proposed to be discussed in the following Chapters.