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Title: Interface of science and interpretation of environment law - through the analysis of NGT judgements
Authors: Joshi, Jui
Keywords: School of Habitat Studies
Sahu, Geetanjoy
Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Studies
Issue Date: 2017
Abstract: With increasing environmental consciousness and the realisation that environment is not invincible, there has been a greater stress on litigations pertaining to environmental damage. With the recommendations of the 186th law commission report and repeated directions by supreme court, the national green tribunal (NGT) was set up with equal representation of judicial and expert members on the panel. One of the main aims of the NGT was to effectively tackle the increasingly technically complex environmental litigations. This research aims to understand the extent of scientific expertise and knowledge used in the interpretation of law in NGT judgements. The study focusses primarily on the relief and restitution cases. The NGT has the powers to award compensation for the damages with two fold aim of environmental restoration and of compensating the victims. The NGT has used this power well since its inception and the compensation amounts have been significant. This study, by the analysis of the landmark cases and the interviews conducted with lawyers, has sought to understand the existing processes and tools used by the NGT panel to award compensation for the natural resource damages. Analysis showing the ways and the extent to which scientific expertise and knowledge has been incorporated in such judgements has been presented. Arguments about the the extent of discretionary powers that can be used by the panel and the best scientific processes and tools that can be used and incorporated to make NGT stand on a stronger ground are presented. These arguments are supported by some analysis of the international practices in use; their advantages and drawbacks and an analysis of how they can be adopted by the NGT in different types of cases. This study can be used as a preliminary study with a great scope for a further in-depth study. This will lead to a greater understanding of the interface of science in the interpretation of environmental law specially w.r.t to the cases in the NGT which award compensations of environmental damages. A greater understanding will lead to better decision making leading to better environmental justice.
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