Appellate Authorities under Pollution Control Laws in India: Powers, Problems and Potential
Over the last four decades, courts in India have developed a rich jurisprudence on environmental issues. The large body of environmental case-law reflects the judiciary’s predominant approach to environmental grievance redressal – directing regulatory institutions to take action against persistent violations and injustices, expanding the scope of environmental regulation and recommending special environmental adjudicatory mechanisms to make environmental justice more accessible. However, apart from a few judgments there has been less judicial attention, and resultant executive action, to strengthen existing structures and processes for effective redressal against administrative arbitrariness or inaction. This paper focuses on an often overlooked aspect of environmental grievance redressal, viz., the effectiveness of existing redressal forums. Such assessments of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) are already emerging. But, here the authors evaluate the effectiveness of a set of much older environmental redressal forums viz., the Appellate Authorities constituted under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 (the Water Act) and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 (Air Act) on two broad dimensions - ability to deliver good quality decisions and accessibility.
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