National Green Tribunal

National Green Tribunanal Act and Real Estate

The first part of this two-part blog discussed the facts that led to the filing of appeals before the Supreme Court challenging the NGT’s judgment dated May 4, 2016 and certain key issues discussed by the Supreme Court in its Judgment disposing of these appeals. In this piece, the second part of the two-part blog, we discuss other significant issues that have been dealt with in the Judgment and analyse the findings to deduce the reasoning employed by the Supreme Court in reaching its decision.
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Supreme Court’s Diktat on Powers of the NGT: Can Developers Finally Rest Easy?

Introduction

The Hon’ble National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench, New Delhi (NGT), vide the judgment dated May 4, 2016 in the Original Application No. 222 of 2014 (Original Application), passed certain orders, which had wide scale impact on the real estate developers in the city of Bengaluru. The NGT directed that the buffer zones maintained around lakes and rajakaluves (drains) were to be increased substantially more than provided under the zoning regulations in the Revised Master Plan 2015 (RMP 2015). The RMP 2015 provided for buffer zones of 30 meters from the centre of the lake, for primary rajakaluves it was 50 meters from the centre of the rajakaluve, for secondary rajakaluves, it was fixed at 25 meters and for tertiary rajakaluve it was 15 meters. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India (Supreme Court) has recently passed a judgment in Civil Appeal No. 5016 of 2016 and other connected appeals on March 5, 2019 (Judgment). These appeals were filed challenging the NGT’s judgment dated May 4, 2016.

In this first part of a two-part blog, we discuss the facts that led to filing of the present appeals before the Supreme Court and a couple of key issues discussed in the Judgment.
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DECOMMISSIONING OF OIL AND GAS PRODUCTION FIELDS ON HIGH SEAS

The Exploration and Production (E&P) basins usually mature in about 20-30 years. What is left after the prolonged E&P phase are the abandoned installations and wells (onland), sub-sea infrastructure, platforms, and wells (offshore). Once the hydrocarbon resources are exhausted or it becomes unviable to extract them further, the E&P project moves to an abandonment phase, and the project is decommissioned. Decommissioning ensures that the E&P installations and infrastructure are removed subsequent to their abandonment and the site is restored in an environmentally sustainable way.


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The power of judicial review enables the judiciary to determine the constitutional validity of legislative and/or executive actions, possibly making them subject to invalidation.

The power of judicial review by Tribunals was examined and decided by the Supreme Court in S.P. Sampath Kumar v. Union of India and in the subsequent case of L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India. After the decision in Sampath Kumar case divergent views were taken by various benches of the Supreme Court. The matter was therefore referred to a seven judge bench of the Supreme Court in L. Chandra Kumar.


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