Updated: Jan 26, 2022, 13:43 IST
New Delhi [India]January 26, 2009 (ANI): National Green Tribunal suggests that authorities responsible for regulating and enforcing PMLA take action against industries that have caused significant damage to the environment, as well as the residents.
“It is incumbent upon the competent authority regulating and enforcing PMLA2002 take action against such violators. Even if they are not against small violators. The NGT stated that at least matters of large-scale industries (LSI) or medium-scale industries (MSI) should have been investigated by the competent authority pursuant to PMLA 2002.
Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel was the NGT chairperson and made the observation.
The NGT bench stated that anyone who violates environmental norms, pollutes the environment, and continues to do business for commercial gains, is subject to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The Schedule to PMLA 2002 contains the environmental norms offences in paragraphs 23, 25,26,27. These were inserted by Section 30 (Amendment Act), 2012, which came into effect on February 15, 2012. The tribunal also pointed out that all provisions relating to offences arising under various Environmental Statutes have now been added to part A of Schedule.
The tribunal observed the four applicants, Akhil Bhartiya Mandala Samaj Ashok Thakoji Tane, Narendra Parushram Nik, Vaibhav Ashok Vaze. The applicants complained about the discharge of untreated effluents in the Arabian Sea at Navapur and into nearby creeks and ‘nallas’, in flagrant violation of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974, and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 by industries located in the industrial area of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) Tarapur.
The tribunal observed that the commissioning was made for Scheduled offences in the case where environmental norms were broken by not operating Effluent Treat Plan (ETP) and by discharging polluting pollutants or causing other violations. The revenue generated by such crime is called proceeds of crime according to PMLA 2002. By showing it in part of business proceeds, it amounts to projecting or claiming that it is untainted. The entire activity is covered by section 3 of PMLA 2002.
The Court noted that PMLA 2002 was originally enacted in order to cover terrorist activities, illegal narcotics trafficking, enemies of country, etc. However, Enforcement Directorate had been applying PMLA 2002 to a very narrow sphere of law.
“It has not taken into account the fact that the scope of PMLA 2002 was expanded or widened substantially, at least since amendment Act of 2012 w.e.f. 15.02.2013,” the court stated, noting that eight-and-half years have passed without Enforcement Directorate taking any action against violators of environmental statutes that have been included in Schedule, Part A of PMLA 2002.
“The offences of Environmental Acts are as such non-cognizable, but offences under PMLA2002 are cognizable. Despite the fact that violators of environmental Statutes have committed offences under PMLA 2002, no competent authority has ever taken action to bring them to justice. This has encouraged polluters ” the NGT stated.
“Parliament’s intention to treat environmental violations as very severe offences is evident from the fact that offences under environmental laws, as noted above, have been included on Schedule, Part A of PMLA 2002, but enforcement machinery has failed entire attempt,” the NGT stated.
The NGT stated that the Enforcement Directorate could examine the matter to determine the appropriate action in light of PMLA 2002, as amended from time-to-time, and especially Amendment of 2012.”
MPCB officials were also brought before the NGT for negligent, lax approaches, careless aptitudes, non-bona fide conduct, lack of devotion to duty, and careless behavior.
The NGT also issued a variety of directions, including that the committee continue for a one-year period to monitor compliance conditions to TIA MIDC by all stakeholder and submit quarterly reports back to the RegistrarGeneral, NGT.
The NGT directed to pay Rs Two Crores to MIDC as compensation and said that the amount of compensation shall be utilised for remediation/restoration of the environment, and healthcare activities. (ANI)