The National Green Tribunal (NGT) will soon introduce email petitions that will not only provide greater access to people living in remote areas but will also help them approach the tribunal without personally appearing before it or engaging a lawyer.
“We are going to introduce a formal system of permitting email petitions to be filed from anywhere in the country,” said Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, chairperson of NGT during an interaction with media persons at Gujarat National Law University (GNLU) on Saturday. He said the email system which will abide by a payment system and a set of rules will take another month to be rolled-out.
The new system will have a fixed format where an aggrieved person can state his details, nature of violation with evidence (if any), details of violators and more.
“Once these columns are filled, the applications will get registered and automatically, all the applications will get converted into draft orders which we will see… They (petitioners) do not have to come personally or engage a lawyer. Any number of petitions can be disposed of in a single day,” Justice Goel said adding that a special software is being built for this purpose. He was at GNLU to deliver a lecture on sustainable development.
“This system will provide access to people in remote areas. Today, we have only one bench, and the other four benches are functioning through video-conferences. But apart from these four benches, there is no way people can get access,” the head of NGT said explaining how in absence of an NGT bench in Gujarat forces a petitioner in Ahmedabad to either travel to Pune or New Delhi for getting a remedy.
Justice Goel, who took charge of NGT in July 2018, said that the body has the necessary powers to prosecute and take personal action on officials not abiding its orders. “We are fixing a timeline and getting a report in writing about the action taken by officials,” he said.
NGT, which currently has 4000 pending cases, has more than 20 vacancies.
“At the moment we have three judicial members and two experts,” he said, adding that the process to hire experts and judicial members for the tribunal is underway.
The chairperson also spoke about steps taken by NGT to quicken it’s functioning. “The first step is to contain unnecessary procedures so that orders can be quickly passed… Instead of spending time on investigation, we straight away refer the matter to the statutory bodies to verify, investigate, take action and submit a report within a specific time-frame. This is a new step. It has never been done before,” he added.