The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre on a petition challenging the constitutional validity of Finance Act, 2017, as it “purports to” change the constitution of tribunals, including the National Green Tribunal (NGT), and adversely affect “functioning and independence” of the environment body. A bench of Chief Justice of India J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud issued the notice on a plea by the NGO Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE). The petition challenges Sections 156 to 189 of the Act dated March 31, 2017 and the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2017 framed under Section 184 of the Act.
The impugned sections, appearing in Chapter XIV of the Act, were “unconstitutionally certified as Money Bill” to bypass the requirement to get the assent of both Houses of Parliament, the petition stated. This amounts to colourable exercise of power, it said. Vivek Chib, the counsel for SAFE, argued that the new regime of appointment and removal of judges in tribunals introduced through the Finance Act is grossly unconstitutional and contrary to judgments of the apex court declaring the National Tax Tribunal Act as unconstitutional.