Guideline on appointment of Chairperson and Member Secretaries of State Pollution Control Boards
In Rajendra Bhandari v. State of Uttarakhand, the Principal Bench of National Green Tribunal was confronted with a case in which unfit appointment of Chairperson and Member Secretary in the State Pollution Control Board was highlighted. NGT issued following guideline on appointment of Chairperson and Member Secretaries of State Pollution Control Board in the case.
1) Special Knowledge:
- It means knowledge which is surpassing, distinguishing and exceptional in nature and is derived through rigorous study or research over a reasonable period of time in the field of matters relating to environment.
- An academic qualification in the field of environmental protection as recognized by university established by law.
- The Tribunal for instance listed the name of few courses that are offered in India such as civil/chemical engineering in environmental engineering, post-graduate in environmental engineering/ environmental management, 4 years graduate in environmental engineering, 2 years M.Sc. in environment science/ environmental management.
- Though the provisions of Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 (“Air Act”) and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 (“Water Act”) does not specifically mention that basic academic qualification in environmental protection is required but the term “special knowledge” covers such a requirement as the legislature cannot be presumed to be oblivious of existence of such basic qualification.
- Chief Secretaries, IFS officer or officer of any other services, Environment Secretaries, politicians, MLAs, literary persons and non-technical persons should not be appointed as Chairperson of the State Board by the virtue of their designation.
2) Practical Experience:
- It means knowledge gained through practice after putting it to practical use and a person having practical experience in respect of matters relating to environmental protection.
- Person who has practical experience in matters relating to environment.
3) Knowledge and experience in administering institutions:
- It does not merely mean to have experience in administering of an institution relating to environmental protection.
- A person has to first have knowledge and experience in administering institutions dealing with matter of environment to be eligible for appointment.
- The focus is on combined set of capabilities derived from both knowledge and experience in administering institutions dealing with matter relating to environment protection.
The State Government has to notify the rules under Air and Water Act expeditiously stating the qualification and experience required for the post of Chairperson and Member Secretary.
- The nominated Chairperson and Member Secretary should have a fixed term of office which should not be extended for more than one term and they should not hold their office as per their tenure in State Government.
- Once a person fulfilling the eligibility criteria is appointed as Chairperson and Member Secretary in the State Board, then that person has to continue for full tenure and the same cannot be curtailed by removal or repatriated before its completion unless there are some charges of misconduct or cogent reasons to be placed on record.
- Tenure should be unaffected by political and bureaucratic interference so that officials function fearlessly and according to the provisions of Air Act and Water Act.
- The State Government has to develop the infrastructure in the State Board by professional and technical officers who are efficient and competent to cope up with increase of industries and development centres.
- The State Government has to ensure adequate manpower for the purpose of execution of the legal provisions.
- The State Government should have latest equipped laboratories for analysis of samples of trade effluents etc
- The State Government has to ensure strict compliance of section 8 of the Water Act and section 10 of the Air Act so that meetings of the State Board are held regularly.
- The State Government and all other competent authorities shall proceed to make appointment or nomination of the members of the Board within 3 months from the date of the pronouncement of this judgment i.e. 24th August 2016.
- The State Government and other concerned authorities have to act in accordance with the directions given in this judgement particularly paragraph 148.
- The State Government has to ensure that the person manning the post of Chairperson and Member Secretary of State Board are competent and eligible with requisite knowledge or practical experience in the field of environment protection and pollution control along with management experience.
ERC, New Delhi