The Supreme Court on Monday directed that until the process of selection of the Judicial Member was completed and the new members took charge, the tenure of the present Judicial Members of the Central Bench of the National Green Tribunal would be extended.

The Bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, Justice P S Narasimha, and Justice J B Pardiwala took note of the submissions made by Advocate Kazi Sangay Thupden in an Interlocutory Application filed by the Enviro Legal Defence Firm to highlight that there existed only seven Judicial and five Expert Members to adjudicate matters in the National Green Tribunal.

The Writ Petition was preferred in light of several Benches of the National Green Tribunal being rendered partially ineffective due to a lack of quorum with an Expert Member of the Eastern Bench at Kolkata also having retired on October 31, 2022, and with no fresh appointments having been made yet.

Section 4(1) of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 provided that the Tribunal should consist of not less than ten but subject to a maximum of twenty full-time Judicial Members and the same number of Expert Members.

Additional Solicitor General Balbir Singh appearing for the respondent apprised the Apex Court that steps had been initiated for the selection of Judicial Members and that an advertisement was also published in the National Daily on December 16, 2022, and the last date of receiving applications was January 12, 2023.

Advocate PC Ghosh appeared for the petitioner.

One of the members of the National Green Tribunal, Justice Sheo Kumar Singh was to retire on Monday but his tenure was extended until further appointments were made and subject to his consent to such extension.

The Apex Court directed the Registrar (Judicial) to immediately communicate the order to the Registrar of the NGT to obviate any interruption in the holding of the office by Justice Sheo Kumar Singh and also required for speeding up the process of filling up the vacancies in the National Green Tribunal to address the reduced working strength of the Tribunal.

Accordingly, the matter was listed on January 27, 2023, for further hearing.

Cause Title- Central Administrative Bar association Kolkata & Anr. V. Union of India

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