Past, present and future of the National Green Tribunal in India

Visala Annamalai, Cohort 2018

Abstract

The National Green Tribunal has been a platform to realize the right to access to environmental justice in India from 2011 onwards. However, lately, the functioning of the Tribunal has been crippled majorly due to the lack of commitment towards keeping this institution alive. This has led to the temporary closure of the four zonal benches leaving only the principal bench in New Delhi alive. This thesis will trace the history of this Tribunal and reflect it on its present and future; the implications of the temporary closure and its impact on the right to access to environmental justice. The right to access to environmental justice is constructed in the light of right to environment and the right to access to justice. The value of this research is that it helps us see the dynamics of commitment towards environmental protection and justice through the lens of affected parties like lawyers. The argument is that the right to access to environmental justice will be dented when the will towards keeping the institution alive decreases. The results are based on a qualitative research undertaken by the researcher. Six lawyers associated to the National Green Tribunal were interviewed in person to answer the questions raised. The researcher has also relied on existing secondary data to trace the timeline of the Tribunal. The research has led to the conclusion that there is visible lethargy in keeping the institution alive; however, the commitment is not completely absent. The current scenario has further affected the right to access to environmental justice. Finally, the researcher explores possible solutions and alternatives to the issue. While getting the NGT fully functional again will solve most of the problem, the complete access to justice will be achieved with reforms in the existing judicial institutions.

Key words: political will; access to justice; National Green Tribunal; environment

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