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Can’t move Goa cases from NGT’s Pune bench to Delhi Bombay HC

Can’t move Goa cases from NGT’s Pune bench to Delhi Bombay HC

11 Oct 2017 No comment 25 hits

Panaji: The high court of Bombay at Goa on Wednesday struck down the central government's 'arbitrary' notification transferring jurisdiction of the Western zonal bench from Pune to New Delhi for NGT matters, and held that inconvenience to the State government can be 'no ground' for doing it.

A division bench comprising justices G S Patel and Nutan Sardessai held that there is no valid or rational basis for clubbing Goa, situated in the West, and well to the south of Mumbai, with territories in the North, and assigning the jurisdiction over these to the principal seat in New Delhi.

"It strikes us as utterly extraordinary that any government should, in the guise of its own inconvenience or convenience, seek to shift a tribunal several thousand kilometers away and then claim that it is for the greater good. Indeed it is not," the high court observed with regards to the notification issued in August 2017.

Responding to the state's submission that New Delhi is better connected to Goa via air travel and that the state has a panel of lawyers in the national capital, Justice Patel, who authored the judgment, quoted James Baldwin's 'The Price of the Ticket' and pointed out that "our duty, and that of every government too, must be to ensure that these attempts to protect the environment can be brought to a forum that is close at hand, where environmental issues can be addressed quickly, without having to travel inordinate distances, and at a cost that the poorest in the land, not just the well-heeled, can afford."

In a 47-page judgement, the high court observed that if there is one thing that neither the State government nor the MoEF did at any stage, "it was to listen to the voice of those who must need the protection of environment laws." The Court further states that "The state government seems to have assumed that it is in loco parentis vis-a-vis all litigants and has the authority, both moral and legal, to speak for them all. The authority is not just questioned before us today. It is flatly denied."

The court held that that the Western Region Bench will be entitled to proceed with the hearings of cases filed before it. Earlier, the high court had directed that no files should be transferred from the Western region bench to New Delhi as a series of petitions came to be filed challenging the notification after the high court suo motu took up the issue.

The High court also said that though it cannot command, it emphatically commended that both the state government and the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MOEFCC) immediately take up with all seriousness the proposal to establish a circuit bench in Goa. "No cause should be allowed to be lost for want of a court," the judgment stated. "For this is something none can deny: this is a land truly worth fighting for."


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Source: Can’t move Goa cases from NGT’s Pune bench to Delhi Bombay HC

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