Activists in Navi Mumbai demand special fast track courts for environmental cases

With mounting complaints of mangrove and wetland destruction, activists in Navi Mumbai have demanded a proposal to have special fast track courts for environmental cases and green police to handle such crimes; this, they claim, would ease the burden of the existing judiciary and police force, and also ensure environmental complaints get resolved quickly
Amidst mounting complaints of mangrove and wetland destruction, activists in Navi Mumbai want special fast track courts for environmental cases and green police to handle such crimes. (HT PHOTO)
Amidst mounting complaints of mangrove and wetland destruction, activists in Navi Mumbai want special fast track courts for environmental cases and green police to handle such crimes. (HT PHOTO)
Published on Jan 20, 2022 06:56 PM IST
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ByG. Mohiuddin Jeddy, Navi Mumbai

With mounting complaints of mangrove and wetland destruction, greens in Navi Mumbai have demanded a proposal to have special fast track courts for environmental cases and green police to handle such crimes.

This, they claim, would ease the burden of the existing judiciary and police force, and also ensure environmental complaints get resolved quickly.

“CM Uddhav Thackeray’s office has asked the Forest Secretary B Venugopal Reddy to take this suggestion forward. We have requested the CM to involve the Environment department, too, in the process,” NatConnect Foundation director, BN Kumar, said.

The Mangrove Cell proposed to have a CCTV camera network for surveillance on the sea forests. “This network should be further strengthened with a centralised Mangrove Control Room and a Rapid Action Force to quickly check destruction. The culprits are now going without trace in the absence of any surveillance,” he said.

Nandkumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan, pointed out that first of all the existing machinery takes time in registering cases and then the investigation is another long-term exercise.

“In all fairness, we do not blame the police force or the judiciary since they are overloaded. Environment has been the biggest victim of the so-called project and infrastructure development in MMR in particular and the special courts will go a long way in ensuring justice,” Pawar said.

Section 19 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, gives the Tribunal power to regulate its own procedure. Additionally, the Tribunal is not bound by procedure under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, or the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, and is guided by principles of natural justice. However, the Tribunal is vested with the powers of a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure for discharging its functions, Kumar pointed out to the government and stressed the need for a fast-track court system.

The Forest Guards, at best, file FIRs with the police. “A full-fledged Green Police force under the Revenue and Forest Department should be empowered to conduct investigation and launch prosecutions and ensure punishment to the guilty,” he added.

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