The National Green Tribunal of India: Decision-Making, Scientific Expertise and Uncertainty

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My presentation focuses on the role of scientific experts and their expertise within the National Green Tribunal (NGT) India where they act as decision-makers in environmental disputes. Experts are ‘central’ not ‘marginal’, to the NGT’s normative structure. I trace and evaluate how an Act of the Indian Parliament created a symbiotic relationship between legal and scientist experts operating as decision-makers and adjudicators of environmental conflicts within the context of the NGT. The NGT’s efforts to reach decisions by centralising scientific experts (an epistemic community) as full court members, within the decision-making process thereby promotes a collective, symbiotic, inter-disciplinary bench that seeks to harmonise legal norms with scientific knowledge. The robust application of environmental principles, particularly a ‘strong precautionary principle’, has promoted a response that tackles serious threats to human health or the environment. The decisions, through expansive rationale and innovative judgments, extend beyond the 'courtroom door' thereby having external social and economic implications. By offering ecological, technological and scientific resource knowledge, NGT experts either formulate policies or assist states with the implementation of these policies, thereby adopting both a problem-solving and policy-creation approach. The interdisciplinary bench through expansive interpretation of both statute law and Article 21 of the Indian Constitution produces a fascinating case study of how a developing nation seeks to resolve its environmental issues through a ‘judicial lens’.


ConferenceEnvironmental Adjudication in the 21st Century 2017
Country/TerritoryNew Zealand
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