SC anguish over pathetic state of tribunals
New Delhi: The Supreme Court today expressed its anguish at the "bureaucratic attitude" that has left the functioning of several tribunals including the National Green Tribunal and Law Commission in a "pathetic" state of affairs.
"It is pathetic. One does not know what forces the judge to accept such assignments. It is most unfortunate that this court has to interfere to provide infrastructure and manpower," a bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya said.
"What is this attitude in the bureaucracy? We are aghast that even the Press Council of India does not have its own office. We are aghast that the Law Commission is situated somewhere in Connaught Place. What is the rental? It is Rs 1 crore. The library of the Law Commission is in the building of Indian Law Institute in front of the Supreme Court," it said.
The remarks were made during the hearing of the issue relating to inadequate infrastructure and accommodation for the members (both judicial and expert) of the NGT bench at Kolkata.
The judges warned the West Bengal government that failure to provide good infrastructure and accommodation to members would compel them to pass an order for shifting the NGT bench from Kolkata to Ranchi or Guwahati.
"You have to come up with good infrastructure and accommodation. For the last one year we have been telling. Otherwise, we will transfer the bench from Kolkata," the bench told West Bengal government`s Additional Chief Secretary (Environment) Trilochan Singh, who was present in the courtroom.
The bench asked him to discuss the matter with senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who was appearing for the state government, and make effort for the bench to become functional.
It posted the matter for hearing on August 2 when the West Bengal government would look into the suggestion of providing accommodation to the members at New Town locality in Kolkata.
Further, the bench directed that the Pune bench of the NGT be made operational from August 1.
The apex court also expressed its displeasure over the accommodation provided to judges of the Calcutta High Court and
the working environment for them.
"The stenographer does not come to the residence of the judges. They simple say it is not my job to come to home of the judges," the bench said.
While deliberating on various issues relating to the NGT, the bench referred to the environmental degradation in Meghalaya and said there has been large-scale destruction of hills.
"Thousands of rock breakers are engaged there. Hills have become nude," the bench said.
The Supreme Court on July 9 had expressed its anguish over the "thorough non-cooperation" of the West Bengal government in setting up a bench of NGT at Kolkata and had directed the Centre to look into the desirability of shifting it to Ranchi or Guwahati.
However, the Centre today said it would lead to further delay of setting up of bench in eastern India by eight to 12 months.
The apex court on March 15 had set April 30 as deadline for making functional benches of NGT at Bhopal, Pune and Kolkata and had warned the states concerned that failure to do so will require presence of their senior officials before it.
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