Will courts function at liberty of executive: NGT to Uttarakhand

Irked over Uttarakhand government's failure to hold a meeting of an expert panel set up to examine impact of projects and development work after the natural disaster there, the National Green Tribunal on Thursday asked if courts will have to function at the liberty of the executive. "Why are they (committee) not able to meet and decide? Does this mean that courts will have to function at the liberty of the the executive? Why has the meeting not been held till date since our earlier orders?" a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said. The tribunal directed the query at the counsel for the state government who submitted that the meeting had not been held till date and has been scheduled for January 27. By way of "last opportunity", the tribunal adjourned the matter to February 5 and directed the state to positively hold the meeting on January 27 and file a report by next date of hearing or ensure presence of the concerned Secretary of the state government. NGT gave the last opportunity to the state of Uttarakhand after it counsel repeatedly assured that meeting will be held on January 27, an effective decision will be taken and a report will be place before the tribunal on February 5. The tribunal by its orders of August 26 and September 9, 2013, had directed setting up of the expert panel which was to hold a meeting and decide how the post-calamity development work as well as restoration of the ecology of the state should be carried out. The committee, which the Ministry of Environment and Forests as well as the Uttarakhand government claim to have been constituted in October 2013, has held only a preliminary meeting and is yet to go into the main issues set out by the tribunal. The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by the NGT Bar Association on the June 2013 floods that ravaged the state and its effect on the people and the environment there.

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