MPCB Closure Order To Baramati Agro Flawed, Passed Hastily: Bombay HC

MPCB Closure Order To Baramati Agro Flawed, Passed Hastily: Bombay HC

Court quashes closure order; asks MPCB to hear and decide matter afresh 

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Thursday, October 19, 2023, 09:18 PM IST
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MPCB Closure Order To Baramati Agro Flawed, Passed Hastily: Bombay HC | representational pic (X)

Mumbai: Calling it a disproportionate, flawed and passed in a hasty manner, the Bombay High Court has quashed a closure order passed by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) against a part of the Baramati Agro Limited, a firm controlled by Sharad Pawar’s grand nephew Rohit Pawar. 

The court has directed the MPCB to hear and decide the matter afresh on the basis of the show cause notice issued to the company initially. 

“The impugned action directs the stringent measure of closure of the operational unit primarily on a single inspection report and the breaches. It is also not established before us that the petitioner has a history of recalcitrance,” said a division bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Manjusha Deshpande. 

“It cannot be argued that the Board can issue an order of closure merely because it has the power to do so. The Board had to consider whether, even proceeding on the basis that all the allegations in the show cause notice were proved against the petitioner, whether the action of closure was warranted,” it added.

The judges remarked that the proceedings, the authorisation from the competent authority, and the issuance of the order were concluded with remarkable speed. Also, the time to shut down the operational distillery was limited to a mere seventy-two hours. 

Besides, the MPCB’s order failed to make any reference to the reply filed by the company to the show cause notice issued earlier resulting in the neglect of various crucial considerations necessary for justifying the closure order. “The initial decision-making process becomes flawed when these criteria are not adhered to,” the bench added.

“.... in this case, neither the factual circumstances on record nor any independent evidence is provided to demonstrate the existence of a severe and imminent crisis in the case at hand,” the bench emphasised. 

MPCB had issued an order on September 27 directing closure of part of the manufacturing activities of the distillery units of Baramati Agro Ltd at Indapur in Pune within 72 hours, that would be early hours on October 1. 

The firm approached the HC, through advocate Akshay Shinde, challenging the notice stating that it has been issued due to “political influence and considering the present political situation.

Court says

* The impugned action directs the stringent measure of closure of the unit primarily on a single inspection report and the breaches

* It cannot be argued that the Board can issue an order of closure merely because it has the power to do so

* MPCB’s order failed to make any reference to the reply filed by the company to the show cause notice

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