CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2039 OF 2022
M/s Indian Oil Corporation Limited v. V.B.R. Menon & Others
DATE OF ORDER:
14 March 2023
Hon’ble Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia
Appellant: M/s Indian Oil Corporation Limited
Respondent: V.B.R. Menon & Others
The Hon’ble Supreme Court (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Court’), set-aside the directions by NGT Delhi issued vide order dated 23.12.2021 as their are pre-existing guidelines of the CPCB directing for installation of vapour recovery devices (VRD) at all fuel stations and retail petroleum outlets.
Accordingly, the appeal was disposed of.
Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
- Section 5 - Power to give directions - Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law but subject to the provisions of this Act, the Central Government may, in the exercise of its powers and performance of its functions under this Act, issue directions in writing to any person, officer or any authority and such person, officer or authority shall be bound to comply with such directions.
Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
- Section 18 - Powers to give directions - In the performance of its functions under this Act-
- the Central Board shall be bound by such directions in writing as the Central Government may give to it; and
- every State Board shall be bound by such directions in writing as the Central Board or the State Government may give to it: Provided that where a direction given by the State Government is inconsistent with the direction given by the Central Board, the matter shall be referred to the Central Government for its decision.
National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
- Section 22 - Appeal to Supreme Court - Any person aggrieved by any award, decision or order of the tribunal, may file an appeal to the Supreme Court, within ninety days from the date of communication of the award, decision or order of the Tribunal, to him, on any one or more of the grounds specified in section 100 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908): Provided that the Supreme Court may, entertain any appeal after the expiry of ninety days if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from preferring the appeal.
- Section 33 - Act to have an overriding effect - The provisions of this Act, shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent contained in any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act.
- In this case, a bunch of petitions with the same issue were decided together.
- The facts of this case are that Respondent no. 2 herein Mr V.B.R. Menon, filed the Original Application No. 138 of 2020 (SZ) before the National Green Tribunal, Chennai for the installation of Vapour Recovery Systems (VRS) in the retail petroleum outlets.
- The application was filed on the basis of the order passed by the Principal Bench of the NGT in the Original Application No. 147 of 2016, wherein directions were issued to install Stage-I and Stage-II vapour recovery devices (VRD) at all fuel stations in the NCR area.
- The Chennai Bench of NGT vide its order dated 23.12.2021, disposed of the matter and passed the directions for installation of Stage-I and Stage-II vapour recovery devices (VRD) at all fuel stations within 6 months from the date of order.
- Aggrieved by the impugned order and judgement of NGT Chennai, the appellant corporation filed the present appeal.
- Whether the NGT bench in Chennai erred in directing for the installment of Stage-I and Stage-II vapour recovery devices (VRD) at all fuel stations?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT:
- The Ld. App for the appellant contended that it does not seek to challenge the directions for the installation of the VRS/VRD. However, the present appeal has been filed to challenge the direction issued in para 69(iii) and para 69(iv) regarding the Consent to Establish (CTE) and Consent to Operate (CTO).
- It was conteded by the appellant that there are three substantial questions of law which need to be answered. These are -
- A. Whether the NGT is authorized to issue directions which are in the nature of legislative functions?
- B. Whether the public sector and private sector OMCs and/or ROs (Retail Outlets) are required to obtain Consent to Establish and/or Consent to Operate for operation, establishment and carrying on the business of ROs?
- C. Whether the NGT has the authority to impose requirement of obtaining an additional approval merely to provide for a regulating mechanism to supervise compliance of the existing guidelines issued by the CPCB?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENTS:
- The Counsel for the Respondent contended that the NGT did not made any error, either in law or in fact, in issuing the impugned directions.
- It was also contended by the appellant that an appeal as per Section 22 National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 will only lie if a substantial question of law has remained unanswered. However, such is not the case in the present matter.
ANALYSIS BY THE COURT:
- The Ld. Court examined whether the NGT has the jurisdiction and the authority to give directions to the CPCB that it should in exercise of its powers u/s 5 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 make it mandatory for all the petroleum retail outlets across the country to obtaine the CTE and CTO.
- While answering the above issue, the Divison Bench held that the NGT was well within its jurisdiction and powers to issue the said directions. However, the directions to make CTE and CTO mandatory for retail petroleum outlets were not necessary as there are pre-existing guidelines of the CPCB for the same.
- The Court directed the CPCB to make sure that its guidelines referred in the case are being followed and once these guidelines are adhered to, no direction for mandatory CTE and CTO would be required.
- Accordingly, the judgement of the NGT Chennai was set-aside and the appeal was disposed of.
The Ld. Court set-aside the directions by NGT Delhi issued vide order dated 23.12.2021 as their are pre-existing guidelines of the CPCB directing for installation of vapour recovery devices (VRD) at all fuel stations and retail petroleum outlets