The Bombay High Court has asked the Goa government to file an affidavit by September 18 in connection with the transfer of the state’s environmental cases from the Pune bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to the Delhi bench. The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had last month issued a notification excluding Goa from the jurisdiction of the Pune bench of the NGT, and brought it under the Delhi bench. The Bombay High Court had earlier issued a notice to the state government taking suo motu cognisance of the notification.
The Goa bench comprising Justices Nutan Sardessai and G S Patel on Tuesday asked the Goa government to file the affidavit by September 18.
It also fixed September 29 for hearing the petitions filed by several social activists in connection with the issue.
“Despite clear directions in our order of September 5, 2017, we have as yet no affidavit in reply from the state government,” the bench said.
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has already filed its affidavit before the high court.
The court said that the affidavit has pointed out the issue of inconvenient connectivity between Goa and Pune and also that Goa government does not have adequate legal infrastructure and representation in Pune.
“While there is little which can be done about connectivity, the second argument is singularly without appeal. In the four years or so since the NGT started its western zone bench in Pune, the state government has surely had sufficient time to establish whatever infrastructure it requires in Pune, and to set up a legal team,” the HC said.
The HC said that the state government should also address the demand for setting up a circuit bench of NGT in Goa.
The court observed that 40 per cent of the filings before the NGT western zone are from Goa.
Notably, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar earlier this month said the Centre decided to transfer the state’s environmental cases from the Pune bench of the NGT to the Delhi bench on the request made by his government.
He had said the change was sought given that Pune was inconvenient as far as travelling was concerned for pursuing the cases and that the state government didn’t have a “legal set-up” in that city which it had in Delhi.
He said all the procedures were followed while asking the Centre to shift the jurisdiction.
Justifying the choice of Delhi, he had said the national capital has an excellent connectivity.
The opposition Congress had written to Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan protesting the central notification.