Forests, Remedies, Jurisdiction, Access to Justice, Standing, Administrative, Permits
The challenge against environment clearance for the Loharinag Pala project was dismissed on 20 May 2005 on the grounds that the applicant had delayed filing his petition beyond the 30-day window after the approval was granted, and there was no proven reason for this delay. The applicant took the issue before the Delhi High Court and invoked its jurisdiction in this matter, as the NEAA is a body based in New Delhi. This petition sought remedies at two levels: first that the Loharinag Pala case needs to be reconsidered in the NEAA. Second - and equally important - that the NEAA is operating only with a Vice Chairman, Vishwanath Anand, and not the five member body that it should have. Therefore its decision on the Loharinag Pala also needs to be reconsidered. The High Court quashed the NEAA order and reinstated the appeal to be heard by the NEAA on merit. The petitioners waited for the MoEF to act, and finally in February 2007 filed another application before the Delhi High Court. The NEAA case was heard in the High Court several times over, sometimes adjourned and sometimes with interim orders passed reminding the MoEF of its responsibilities. The present order establishes itself within the chronicles of India's environment history seeking natural justice. The order strongly pulls up the MoEF for failing to set up a fully functional NEAA despite an order passed for three and a half years back. The High Court has fined MoEF Rs.20,000 and directed it to constitute the NEAA within 12 weeks from the date of its order.