Penalising environmental violations: an analysis of the Ministry’s proposal
In October 2015, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change released a Draft Environment Laws (Amendment) Bill 2015 proposing amendments to the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 and the National Green Tribunal Act 2010. The stated objective of the Bill is to provide ‘effective deterrent penal provisions’ and to introduce the concept of monetary penalty. It also aims ‘to minimise the exercise of discretion and make an unambiguous framework’. This paper summarises the text of the Bill and analyses whether it will complement the environmental objectives the parent laws espouse. It discusses some of the major concerns relating to the proposed amendments under three broad themes: environmental damage and penalties, adjudicating authorities and rule making powers. It concludes that although penalties that effectively deter violators are certainly the need of the hour, the proposed amendments are unlikely to achieve this objective.