At, High Court of Karnataka
By, THE HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE MR. ABHAY S. OKA & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE ASHOK S. KINAGI
For the Appearing Parties: Shivaraj N. Arali, Rajiv Khaitan, Om Prakash Agarwal, Gururaj Joshi, Advocates.
1. We have heard the learned counsel appearing for the petitioners and the learned counsel appearing for the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (for short KSPCB).
2. In W.P.Nos.5847, 5808, 5495, 5562, 5132, 5146, 5502, 5151, 5684, 5755 and 5847 of 2020, there is a challenge to the notices issued at Annexure-A by which, demands for interim environmental compensation or environmental compensation charges based on the orders of the National Green Tribunal have been made. Similarly, in W.P.Nos.5446 and 5456 of 2020, there is a challenge to Annexures-Q and L respectively wherein the challenge is same.
3. The demand of environmental compensation charges is based on the orders dated 10th July 2019 and 14th November 2019 in O.A.No.1038/2018 and the order dated 11th January 2019 in O.A.No.95/2018. The copies of the said orders along with the memo are placed on record in W.P.No.5495/2020. After going through the said orders, we find that no direction has been issued by the National Green Tribunal against KSPCB or State Pollution Control Boards to recover or demand environmental compensation whether interim or otherwise, or environmental compensation charges. When we called upon the learned counsel appearing for KSPCB to point out any such direction issued by the National Green Tribunal or a specific provision under the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 (for short the Water Act), the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 (for short the Air Act) and the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 (for short the said Act of 1986), which authorizes State Pollution Control Boards to claim or demand such amount, the learned counsel is unable to show any provision or direction of National Green Tribunal to justify the demand for interim environment compensation or environmental compensation charges.
4. In any case, the impugned notices which are referred above do not state that any statutory power has been exercised by the KSPCB for making the demands. Therefore, the demands cannot be sustained. Moreover, no opportunity of being heard was granted to the petitioners before quantifying the demands. Hence, impugned demands cannot be sustained.
5. However, we must make it clear that if the petitioners have committed any default in compliance with the provisions of the Air Act, the Water Act and the said Act of 1986 or any Rules framed under the said statutes, it will be the obligation of the KSPCB to initiate action in accordance with law.
6. With the above observations and clarification, we pass the following order:
(i) The impugned demands for interim environmental compensation or for environmental compensation charges are hereby set aside only on the ground of the failure to justify the demands by referring to any statutory provisions or any binding order;
(ii) Notwithstanding the aforesaid direction of setting aside of the orders of dema
Please Login To View The Full Judgment!
nd, it will be the obligation of the KSPCB to take action in accordance with law in the event the petitioners have committed violation of the provisions of the Air Act or the Water Act or the said Act of 1986 or any Rules or order made under the said statutes; (iii) The writ petitions are disposed of on the above terms.