Decided on October 08,1990



Ahmadi, J. - (1.)Special leave granted in all cases.
(2.)Pursuant to the resolutions passed by certain State Legislature including that of Rajasthan under clause (1) of Art. 252 of the Constitution, Parliament enacted The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 (Act VI of 1974), (hereinafter called the 1974 Act), to provide for the prevention and control of water pollution, the maintaining or restoring of wholesomeness of water, the establishment of Boards for the prevention and control of water pollution, the conferring on and assigning to such Boards powers and functions relating thereto and for matters connected therewith.'Pollution', as defined in section 2(e), means "such contamination of water or such alteration of physical, chemical or biological properties of water or such discharge of any sewage or trade effluent or of any other liquid, gaseous or solid substance into water as may, or is likely to, create a nuisance or render such water harmful or injurious to public health or safety, or to domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural or other legitimate uses, or to the life and health of animals or plants or of aquatic organisms". "Sewage effluent" according to S. 2(g) means ."effluent from any sewage system or sewage disposal works and includes sullage from open drains", "Trade effluent" according to S. 2(k) includes "any liquid, gaseous or solid substance which is discharged from any premises used for carrying on any trade or industry, other than domestic sewage". Sections 3, 4 and 13 provide for the constitution of a Central Board, a State Board and a Joint Board, respectively. S. 16 enumerates the functions of the Central Board constituted for promoting cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the State. Section 17 sets out the functions of the State Board which amongst OTHERS include preparing a comprehensive programme for the prevention, control or abatement of pollution of streams and wells in the State and for securing its execution; inspection of sewage or trade effluents, works and plants for the treatment of sewage and . trade effluents. evolving methods for treatment of sewage and trade effluents and for the disposal thereof and laying down standards of treatment of sewage and trade effluents to be discharged into any particular strearn. Sections 21 and 22 confer power on the State Board or any officer empowered by it to take for the purpose of analysis samples of water from any stream, or well or samples of any sewage or trade effluent which is passing from any plant or vessel or from any other place into any stream or well and to send the samples for analysis to the laboratory established or recognised for that purpose by the concerned Board. Section 24 prohibits the use of any stream or well for the disposal of polluting matters. Section 25 imposes restrictions on new outlet and new discharges Section 25(1) reads as under:
"Subject to the provisions of this section, no person shall without the previous consent of the State Board, bring into use any new or altered outlet for the discharge of sewage or trade effluent into a stream or well, or begin to make any new discharge of sewage or trade effluent into a stream or well."
Under these provisions the application for consent has to be made to the State Board in the prescribed form containing the particulars relating to the proposed construction, installation or operation of any treatment or disposal system or of any extension or addition thereto. Sub-section (7), which is relevant for our purpose, reads as under:
"The consent referred to in sub-sec. (1) shall, unless given or refused earlier be deemed to have been given unconditionally on expiry of a period of four months of the making of an application on this behalf complete in all respects to the State Board."
Section 26 provides that persons discharging sewage or trade effluent into a stream or well before the commencement of the Act shall apply for consent within a period of three months of the constitution of the State Board. If the State Board refuses to grant consent or withdraws consent already granted an appeal is provided to the appellate authority. S. 29 confers revisional powers on the State Government to call for the. records of any case where an order has been made by the State Board under Sections 25, 26 and 27 for the purpose of satisfying itself as to the legality or propriety of any such order. Failure to comply with the requirements the statute is punishable under Chapter VII. Thus, this law aims at prevention and control of water pollution.
(3.)On 7th December, 1977, the President gave his assent to the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess-Act, 1977 (Act No. XXXVI of 1977), (hereinafter referred to as the 1977 Act). 'This Act was enacted to provide for the levy and collection of a cess on water consumed by persons carrying on certain industries, with a view to augment the resources of the statutory Boards for the prevention and control of water pollution. Section 2(c) defines "specified industry" to mean "any industry specified in Schedule I". Power (Thermal and Diesel) Generating Industry is included at item No. 14 in Schedule 1 to the Act. Section 3 which is the charging section inter alia provides that there shall be levied and collected a cess for the purposes of the 1974 Act and utilisation thereunder. The Cess under sub-sec. (1) is made payable by every person,carrying on any specified industry to be calculated on the basis of water actually consumed for any of the purposes specified in column I of Schedule II, at such rate not exceeding the rate specified in the corresponding entry in column 2 thereof. Schedule II enumerates in column 1 the purposes for which water is consumed and sets out the maximum rate of cess therefor in colui-nn 2. The rate of cess for industrial cooling is three-fourths of a paisa, per kilolitre, while it is one paisa per kilolitre for domestic purpose. Where water gets polluted and the pollutants are easily biodegradable, the rate is 2 paise per kilolitre but where the pollutants are not easily biodegradable and are toxic, the rate is two and a half paise per kilolitre. It is obvious that the rate of cess depends on the degree of pollution. It may also be noticed at this stage that the cess is to be calculated on the basis of the water lconsumed for any of the purposes specified in column 1 of Schedule II at the rate set out in the notification issued by the Central Government not exceeding the rates specified in column 2 of the said Schedule. Section 4 provides for affixing of meters for the purposes of measuring and recording the quantity of water consumed. Section 5 requires every person carrying on any specified industry and every local authority, liable to pay the cess under section 3, to furnish returns in such forms and at such intervals containing such particulars as may be prescribed - to the officer or authority appointed therefor. The officer or authority to whom the return has been furnished under section 5 is charged with the duty to make' an inquiry as to the particulars stated in the return and then pass an assessment order stating the amount of cess payable by the concerned person or local authority, as the case may be. Section 14 prescribes a penalty for failure to file a return and section 11 provides a penalty for failure to pay the cess within the specified time. Any person or local authority aggrieved by an order of assessment made under section 6 or 'by an order imposing penalty under section 11, may file an appeal under section 13 within the prescribed time. Section 7 provides for a rebate if the cess is payable. It reads as under:
"Where any person or local authority, liable to pay the cess under this Act, installs any plant for the treatment of sewage or trade effluent, such person or local authority shall, from such date as may he prescribed, be entitled to rebate of seventy per cent of the cess payable by such person or, as the case may be, local authority."
The expressions 'sewage' and 'trade effluents' having not been defined would have the same meanings respectively assigned to them under the 1974 Act. Section 17 empowers the Central Government to make rules for carrying out the purposes of the Act. Under that section, the Central Government made the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Rules, 1978, (hereinafter called 'the Rules). Rule 6 thereof deals with rebate. Under that rule where a consumer instals any plant for the treatment of sewage or trade effluent such consumer becomes entitled to the rebate under section 7 on or from the expiry of 15 days from the date on which such plant is successfully commissioned and so long as it functions successfully.

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