Disapproving of the practice of filing multiple litigation before multiple forums, the Bombay high court (HC) has made stern remarks against the NGO Vanashakti, which takes up environmental protection issues.
A division bench of justices Gautam Patel and Gauri Godse observed: “We entirely disapprove of this attempt to canvass the same points in different forums. We are making it clear that we will have not the slightest hesitation in dismissing the PIL and even making an order of exemplary costs if required unless we have an adequate explanation.”
During the hearing, the court noted that a petition was filed by a member of Vanashakti before National Green Tribunal (NGT) contending that the Panje wetlands, located in the coastal town of Uran in Navi Mumbai, was indeed wetlands protected by Coastal regulation Zone (CRZ) and that CIDCO’s holding ponds with their Dutch or flap gates should be removed to allow the free air flow of water to these lands
The NGO had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in HC seeking that the Maharashtra Government to directed to declare Panje land as protected under Wildlife Protection Act.
The judges remarked that both the pleas raised similar issues before different forums, NGT and HC. “The PIL proceeds on the very same factual basis and makes out the very same case on the very same material that the Panje area is in fact wetlands rich in bird life and other flora and fauna,” it added.
“We understand two different Petitioners making similar pleas in two different forums. It is incomprehensible that the same organisation and members of the same organisation should simultaneously canvas the same points before two different adjudicatory forums,” said the court.
The issue came to light while the HC was hearing two different appeals filed by the City Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) and Navi Mumbai Sez Pvt Ltd challenging the order of the NGT.
The NGO argued that the two reliefs are distinct and that the PILs seeks a declaration under the Wildlife Protection Act whereas the NGT application is only to implement a State Government notification or resolution. “This is a distinction without a difference,” averred court.
The HC has kept all the petitions for further hearing and directions on November 15.Bombay HC to hear PIL against court vacations after Diwali holidays