The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the Karnataka High Court order suspending the suo motu proceedings initiated by the National Green Tribunal against incidents of fire reported in polluted Bellandur lake in Bengaluru.
A bench of Justices R F Nariman and Sanjay Kishan Kaul expressed anguish and displeasure over the HC’s June 15 order, acting on a petition filed by NGO Namma Bengaluru Foundation through advocate Balaji Srinivasan.
The court issued notice to Shashi Distilleries Pvt Limited, on whose writ petition the HC passed the order staying the proceedings.
Senior advocate Sajan Poovayya, representing the NGO, contended that the HC ignored all environmental aspects while ordering blanket ban on the proceedings started by the NGT for cleaning up the lake since February 16, last year.
“There exists a serious environmental threat due to which right to life of the citizens of Bengaluru was being jeopardised on account of reoccurring fire in the lakes and particularly the unusual burning of Bellandur lake caused due to discharge of effluents by erring establishments situated there,” he contended.
There were numerous timely directions issued by the NGT in order to safeguard the irreversible damage caused due to discharge of effluents by factories and establishments around the lake, he said.
Poovayya also claimed that the HC erred in ignoring provision under Section 22 of National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, to appeal before the apex court against an order passed by NGT.
He said it was only due to doctrine of necessity that the Principal Bench of NGT at New Delhi had to take up the issue, which was previously being adjudicated by Southern Bench, whose member had recused himself from hearing the matter. Thus, there was no bench available to hear the matters concerning the environmental damage caused due to burning of lakes, the counsel said.
Senior advocate K V Vishwanathan, appearing for Shashi Distilleries, contended that no cause of action existed as the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board’s order of May 12 for closure of the unit had already been set aside. On question of jurisdiction, he supported the HC’s order, saying only the Southern bench of the NGT must take up the controversy.
The bench decided not to disturb the operation of the unit but it expressed its unhappiness over the HC’s order for being in violation of the law laid down by the apex court in the case of ‘Union of India and Ors. versus Shri Kant Sharma and Ors’ (2015), which highlighted the mandatory requirement of availing the statutory remedy of appeal provided under a special legislation. The SC ruling deprecated the practice of filing writ petition before the High Court.