Decided on April 01,2020

Alembic Pharmaceuticals Limited Appellant
Rohit Prajapati Respondents


DHANANJAYA Y.CHANDRACHUD,J. - (1.)By a judgment dated 8 January 2016, the Bench of the National Green Tribunal[1] for the Western Zone held that a circular issued by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests[2] on 14 May 2002 is contrary to law. The circular envisaged the grant of ex post facto environmental clearances. The NGT issued a slew of directions including the revocation of environmental clearances and for closing down industrial units operating without valid consents. On 17 May 2016, the NGT dismissed an application for review filed by one of the affected industrial units. The industrial units and MoEF are in appeal[3].
[1] "NGT"

[2] "MoEF"

[3] Civil Appeal no 1526 of 2016 (Alembic Pharmaceuticals Limited); Civil Appeal no 3175 of 2016 (United Phosphorus Limited); Civil Appeal nos 6604-6605 of 2016 (Unique Chemicals); and Civil Appeal no 42756 of 2016 (Union of India)

(2.)The Environmental Impact Assessment[4] notification of 27 January 1994 mandated prior Environmental Clearances[5] for setting up and expansion of industrial projects falling within thirty categories. The deadline for obtaining an EC under the EIA notification of 1994 was extended by various circulars to 31 March 1999 and thereafter to 30 June 2001. By the circular of 14 May 2002, which was quashed by the NGT, MoEF extended the period till 31 March 2003 for those industrial units which had gone into production without obtaining an EC under the EIA notification of 1994 to apply for and obtain an ex post facto EC. The circular indicated that it had been decided:
"... to extend the deadline upto 31 March 2003 so that defaulting units could avail of this last and final opportunity to obtain ex-post-facto environmental clearance..."

[4] "EIA"

[5] "EC"

(3.)The circular of 14 May 2002, allowed for ex post facto ECs, subject to a graded contribution into an earmarked fund based on the investment cost of the project. The first and the second respondents challenged the circular of 14 May 2002 before the High Court of Gujarat. The proceedings were subsequently transferred to the NGT. The NGT by its decision dated 8 January 2016 held that the law did not permit the grant of an ex post facto clearances and that the circular of 14 May 2002 was an internal communication and did not override the provisions of the EIA notification dated 27 January 1994 which had been issued in exercise of statutory powers conferred by Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986[6].
[6] "Environment Protection Act 1986"


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