Environmental Justice in India: The National Green Tribunal and Expert Members

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This article argues that the involvement of technical experts in decision making promotes better environmental results while simultaneously recognizing the uncertainty in science. India’s record as a progressive jurisdiction in environmental matters through its proactive judiciary is internationally recognized. The neoteric National Green Tribunal of India (NGT) – officially described as a ‘specialised body equipped with necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues’ – is a forum which offers greater plurality for environmental justice. The NGT, in exercising wide powers, is staffed by judicial and technical expert members who decide cases in an open forum. The experts are ‘central’, rather than ‘marginal’, to the NGT’s decision-making process. This article draws on theoretical insights developed by Lorna Schrefler and Peter Haas to analyze the role of scientific experts as decision makers within the NGT. Unprecedented interview access provides data that grants an insight into the internal decision-making processes of the five benches of the NGT. Reported cases, supported by additional comments of bench members, illustrate the wider policy impact of scientific knowledge and its contribution to the NGT’s decision-making process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-205
JournalTransnational Environmental Law Journal
Issue number1
Early online date2 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


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