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Report No. 186

Appellate Jurisdiction

It is now proposed, as stated earlier, that there will be an Environment Court in each State (or group of States) and will have appellate jurisdiction. It will have appellate jurisdiction which is now being exercised by officers of the Government under the special Acts. Pending appeals under the Water (P&CP) Act, 1974, Air (P&CP) Act, 1981 and under the Rules 142framed under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 must be transferred to the proposed Environment Court in each State and all future appeals must be filed in the said Court.

Section 28 of the Water (P&CP) Act, 1974 and section 31 of the Air (P&CP) Act, 1981 must be amended, as stated earlier, stating that the appeals shall hereafter lie to the Environment Court under the proposed Act and that pending appeals shall stand transferred to the said Court. Similarly, a provision must be inserted in the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 stating that all appeals against orders passed by the various authorities under the Rules made under that Act shall be filed in the concerned Environment Court at the level of each State (or group of States) and that pending appeals before appellate authorities constituted under the said Rules shall also stand transferred to the Environment Court.

A provision may also have to be made in the proposed Environment Courts Act enabling the Central Government to issue notifications from time to time, notifying that the Environment Court will be the appellate authority in respect of orders passed under any other Central Act and also enabling the State Governments, with the approval of the Central Government, to notify, from time to time, the Environmental Court as the appellate Court for purposes of other State Acts.

The National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995 was a law intended to award compensation to those affected by hazardous substances and we propose that this relief of damages which was to be granted by the National Environment Tribuna.- for injury on a strict liability basi.- should be a relief which will be granted by the proposed Environment Court. This will 143necessitate repeal of the National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995 and bringing those provisions into the proposed Act.

It is also proposed that the relief which could have been granted by the Environment Appellate Authority under the National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997 should now be granted by the proposed Court, in respect of violation of safeguards under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and the appellate powers contemplated by section 11 of that Act be now granted to the proposed Court. This will require repeal of the National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997 and transfer of those provisions into the proposed Act.

We are also of the view that the appeals against awards passed by the Collector under section 8 of the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 (which deals with compensation payable for injury to person or property on account of hazardous substances) should lie to the proposed Environment Court. Section 8 of that Act contemplates that the compensation payable and paid under section 7 shall go in reduction of any compensation payable "under any other law".

The proposed Environment Court will be entitled to pass interlocutory orders, including ad interim and ex parte orders pending the appeals.

The appeals by the proposed Court must be entertained on payment of a fixed court fee of Rs.500.

Proposal to Constitute Environment Courts Back

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