Mumbai: The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the ongoing proceedings before the NationalGreen Tribunal pertaining to the challenge to the grant of environmental clearance (EC) to the Maharashtra government’s ambitious Versova-Bandra Sea Link(VBSL).
A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala stayed the proceedings after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation Limited (MSRDC), said that the Bombay High Court and the National Green Tribunal (NGT), in other proceedings, have dismissed the pleas challenging the project. “The same issue cannot be agitated again and again,” the top law officer said.
The bench referred to the legal doctrine of constructive “res judicata” and said the same issue cannot be raised again as it may lead to a situation where no public project will be allowed to proceed.
The VBSL is an under-construction 17.17km bridge and will connect Versova in suburb Andheri to the Bandra-Worli Sea Link in Bandra. This eight-lane sea link is expected to reduce congestion in the city.
The MSRDCL in the apex court has challenged the proceedings before the NGT in which Dileep V Nevatia has challenged the EC granted for the upcoming sea link by the environment department of the Maharashtra government.
The NGT bench had on Jan 25, said the principle of “res judicata” will not be applicable in the matter because in the earlier appeal and in the present appeal of 2017, against the Mumbai bench of NGT, the parties are different.
It had said appellant Nevatia was not a party in the earlier proceedings before the NGT and the high court, and therefore, he cannot be deprived of right of hearing in the present appeal, which was filed in 2017.
“In our opinion, the parties being different in the earlier filed two matters, that is an appeal and the Original Application, from the parties in the present case, therefore, the principle of res judicata would not be applicable,” the NGT had said.
“Hence, it would be appropriate for us to decide this matter on merits afresh. Although at that stage, the Judgment passed by this Tribunal in Appeal and Original Application could be certainly taken into consideration,” it had said.
The EC was issued in favour of the MSRDC in Feb 2017, by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA).
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