National Green Tribunal (NGT) Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar today retired from the post after completing his five-year tenure. His successor is yet to be appointed. A full bench reference was organised today at the NGT in court number 1 on the occasion. Justice Kumar resigned as Supreme Court judge after he was appointed NGT chairperson on December 20, 2012. During his tenure as NGT chief, he passed several landmark orders and judgements. These include the ban on 10- year-old diesel and 15-year-old petrol vehicles, the slew of directions for rejuvenation of the Ganga and Yamuna, the demolition of illegal hotels in Himachal Pradesh and the ban on plastic items in Delhi, Haridwar and Punjab. His recent order capping the number of pilgrims at Vaishno Devi to 50,000 per day and his direction to maintain silence at Amarnath invited ire from various quarters.
The first chairperson of the tribunal was Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta, who was appointed on October 18, 2010 and relinquished the post in 2011 when he was made ‘lokayukta’ of Himachal Pradesh. The NGT was established on October 18, 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
The tribunal’s principal bench is located in New Delhi while its zonal benches are in Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai and its circuit benches in Shimla, Shillong, Jodhpur and Kochi.
The tribunal consists of a full time chairperson, judicial members and expert members. The minimum number of judicial and expert members prescribed is 10 in each category and maximum number is 20 in each category.