Accepting to examine the issue since it might have an impact across the country,the Supreme Court on Monday sought a response from the Centre on a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act,2000,which excludes the jurisdiction of a High Court to entertain writ petitions on environment and forest related matters.
A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir issued notice to the Union government on the writ petition filed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court Bar Association and sought a reply within four weeks.
Senior advocate Vivek Tankha,appearing for the petitioner,submitted that the jurisdiction of the High Courts,being a fundamentally basic feature of the Constitution,cannot be excluded by way of any legislation and not even by a constitutional amendment.
This is a matter which has been raised by advocates of one state at present but the provisions in question have an impact across the country and the apex court will hence have to settle the issue of law. Certain provisions require judicial review since they take away appellate jurisdiction of the High Courts completely, Tankha said. Accepting his contention,the Bench said they were issuing notice on his plea.
The petition,filed by advocates Gaurav Agrawal and Siddharth Gupta,has requested the court to strike down the provisions of Section 14 read with Section 22 of the NGT Act to the extent that they divested the High Courts of their constitutional powers under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution of India.
The petition has also also sought quashing of the governments decision to set up a Bench of the NGT at Bhopal instead of creating one at the principal seat of High Court at Jabalpur.
Citing an apex court verdict,the plea said the constitution of NGT Benches had been done in an arbitrary manner disregarding the law laid down in the S P Sampat Kumars case wherein this court observed that for ensuring the efficacy and efficiency of any tribunal,its permanent seat should be at a place where the principal seat or Bench of the High Court is situated.