NGT committee exceeds jurisdiction
The Art of Living counsel Nikhil Sakhardande submitted the following points at the NGT hearing today:
Selection Bias by the Principal Committee
The Expert Committee report is based on a single satellite image dated 5 September 2015 which was during the peak monsoon season, to show that wetlands existed on the event site. This is distortion of actual facts to deliberately mislead the tribunal. Rainfall statistics for the year 2015 were submitted that clearly show the satellite image is a depiction of ground conditions saturated due to the monsoon which was abnormally high, highest in last 100 years! This is completely extraneous, irrelevant, and non-application of mind. It misrepresents of the ground conditions and a clear case of Selection Bias on part of the Principal Committee.
No technical data to prove allegation of compaction
The counsel submitted that the Expert Committee in two reports, dated 28th July and 28th November respectively, made damaging statements about how The Art of Living had compacted the land. But the conclusions stand unsupported by any test reports or technical data required to prove that compaction has indeed happened.
The Expert Committee reports have erroneously considered an area of 170 hectares for its assessment whereas The Art of Living has submitted that there is no evidence on record to show that any area exceeding 25 hectares was utilized for the event. In fact the Petitioner/Applicant has himself stated the area as 25 hectares in the Original Application filed by it.
Excess of jurisdiction contrary to the NGT Act
It was submitted that the committee has admitted in its quantification report that it is not aware of what the event site was before the event and for this reason it is not giving recommendations for restitution of the site but it is giving recommendation for rehabilitation of the event site to its ideal state. It was unilaterally decided by the Committee without any order of the Tribunal. It is an excess of jurisdiction and contrary to the Section 15 of the NGT Act. This shows that the committee has exercised power which was not vested in it and therefore the entire report is rendered bad in law on this ground alone.
No violation of the Judgement of 2015 in the Yamuna case
Lastly, The Art of Living counsel submitted that the allegation against of the violation of the Judgement of 2015 in the Yamuna case filed by Manoj Mishra, it was explained and pointed out to the Tribunal that there is no violation of the judgement. Once we get all the approvals, there can be no violation of the Judgement. And in any case, the Judgement does not prohibit the activities which were carried out by the Foundation at the site.
Counsel reiterated that there has been complete non-application of mind, excess of jurisdiction, and no tests or technical data to support any of their allegations against The Art of Living.
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