Breaking: High Court Staying NGT's Order That Was Upheld By Apex Court: SC Directs Kerala HC Registrar To Place Its Order Before Single Judge
The Supreme Court today observed that the stay by the Kerala High Court of an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that was earlier upheld by the Supreme Court, is in the teeth of the order of the Supreme Court.
The Court has passed an interim order directing the Registrar General of the Kerala High Court to place today's interim order of the Supreme Court before the Single Judge of the High Court who is hearing the matter. The Court issued notice in the SLP and will next consider the matter on April 17
Advocate Yeshwanth Shenoy had approached the Supreme Court alleging that the Kerala High Court has stayed an order of the NGT despite the appeal against the order being dismissed by the Apex Court through a speaking order and despite the review petition against the dismissal also being dismissed by the Apex Court. The High Court had stayed the order of the NGT in a Writ Petition filed by the State government. The order of the NGT is in relation to mining in the state.
The Bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice CT Ravikumar was told by the Petitioner appearing in person that the High Court dismissed his petition to implead in the proceedings before the High Court to point out the illegality in its staying the NGT's order. "Order dismissing my impleading is much more damaging to this Court", he told the Court.
Upon hearing the Petitioner, the Bench dictated its interim order noting the submission that the proceedings of the High Court are conducted on day to day basis. "It shall be in the teeth of the Order passed by this Court. The Registry is directed to communicate this Order to the Registrar General of the High Court to place the same before the High Court in the pending proceedings which will be taken into consideration by the High Court while hearing the proceedings before it and while extending the stay granted of the order passed by the NGT, against which the Civil Appeal preferred came to be dismissed and the subsequent review also came to be dismissed", the Court said in its order.
A special leave petition was filed by Yeshwanth Shenoy impugning an order dated February 17, 2023, of the Bench of Justice Viju Abraham of the High Court refusing the Petitioner to intervene in the Writ Petition filed by the State government.
It is contended in the SLP that the "High Court refused to allow the petitioner to implead himself to point out that the Kerela HC cannot interfere in an order that has attained finality before the Supreme Court and any interference would hamper judicial discipline and amount to the challenging authority of the Supreme Court."
The SLP says that in the Writ Petition filed by the State, a non-existent order of the NGT was stayed by the High Court as the NGT's order had become non-existent due to the doctrine of the merger as the Supreme Court had upheld the NGT's order twice in the proceedings before it.
The NGT, by an order dated May 27, 2021, had declared the mining carried out by one M.D. Kuriakose in the name and style of 'cochin granites' was illegal and had directed the mining department to impose environmental damages.
The order of the NGT was challenged by the said M.D. Kuriakose and the Supreme Court by an order dated August 16, 2021, dismissed the SLP stating that "there is no error of fact or law in the order of National Green Tribunal". A review petition was filed to review the said order by the same individual and that was also dismissed by an order stating, "Court has carefully gone through the review petition and the connected papers and we find no merit in the review petition".
Thereafter, the State of Kerala filed a writ petition against the said order of NGT and obtained an interim stay of the NGT's order and subsequently, the stay was extended on multiple occasions. The Petitioner then moved an application to implead himself to point out the doctrine of merger and to challenge the maintainability of the writ petition, which was dismissed by the High Court by the order impugned before the Apex Court.
In its order, the High Court merely stated that the previous orders of the Apex Court dismissing the SLP and the Review Petition were produced along with the Writ Petition by the State Government and then went on to hold that the Petitioner was not a proper or necessary party to the Writ Petition. The Single Judge of the High Court did not deal with the submissions of the Petitioner about the merger of the order of the NGT with the orders of the Apex Court.
The SLP says, "The stay continues till this date and the petition to implead filed by the Petitioner to point out the doctrine of Merger and the need to maintain Judicial discipline and the hierarchy of the Justice Delivery System was dismissed and the Hon'ble High Court of Kerala continues to hear the matter wasting precious Judicial time on the same."
Further, it reads that the "Hon'ble High Court, even if unaware of the doctrine of merger ought not to have interfered with an order which this Hon'ble Court did not find any error either on facts or on law."
Before the High Court, in his petition for impleadment, the Petitioner had sought initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against the Senior Government Pleader and the Advocate General of the State for allegedly scandalising the authority of the Supreme Court. He says in his petition that, "I had written an article on the issue surrounding the ‘bribery allegations against the President of the KHCAA’ on my social media post and I received a call from an advocate stating that these allegations are pale when compared to the larger ‘games’ played in the High Court of Kerala".
He has said in his petition that "...advocates who were aware of this gross violation kept silent when it was their duty to speak up. These advocates attributed their silence to the fear of victimisation by the State, the law officers of the State and even the Judges, because many had reason to believe that the Judges were involved too".
Case Title: Yeshwanth Shenoy v. State of Kerela & Ors. SLP(C) No. 5563/ 2023