In Re: TN Godavarman Thirumulpad vs UoI 2024 INSC 78 :: [2024] 1 S.C.R. 704 – Environment – Central Empowered Committee

Central Empowered Committee -Conception, constitution, functions, and institutionalisation of the CEC- – Directions issued to the CEC to adopt the measures to promote institutional transparency, efficiency, and accountability in its functioning: i. The CEC shall formulate guidelines for the conduct of its functions and internal meetings. The CEC shall formulate the operating procedures delineating the roles of its members and the Secretary of the CEC. ii. The CEC shall formulate guidelines about the public meetings that it holds, ensure the publication of meeting agenda in advance on its website, maintain minutes of meetings, and set out rules regarding notice to parties. iii. The CEC shall formulate guidelines for site visits and, if necessary, hearing the public and affected parties therein. iv. The CEC shall formulate guidelines fixing time limits for site visits, preparation of reports, and also the manner of preparation of reports. v. These guidelines/regulations must be accessible for anyone to seek. They shall be posted on the official website of the CE.

Principles for the effective monitoring of various bodies, institutions, and regulators established for protecting our forests, wildlife, environment, and ecology – The bodies, authorities, regulators, and executive offices entrusted with environmental duties must function with the following institutional features: i. The composition, qualifications, tenure, method of appointment and removal of the members of these authorities must be clearly laid down. Further, the 30 appointments must be regularly made to ensure continuity and these bodies must be staffed with persons who have the requisite knowledge, technical expertise, and specialisation to ensure their efficient functioning. ii. The authorities and bodies must receive adequate funding and their finances must be certain and clear. iii. The mandate and role of each authority and body must be clearly demarcated so as to avoid overlap and duplication of work and the method for constructive coordination between institutions must be prescribed. iv. The authorities and bodies must notify and make available the rules, regulations, and other guidelines and make them accessible by providing them on the website, including in regional languages, to the extent possible. If the authority or body does not have the power to frame rules or regulations, it may issue comprehensive guidelines in a standardised form and notify them rather than office memoranda. v. These bodies must clearly lay down the applicable rules and regulations in detail and the procedure for application, consideration, and grant of permissions, consent, and approvals. vi. The authorities and bodies must notify norms for public hearing, the process of decision­making, prescription of right to appeal, and timelines. 31 vii. These bodies must prescribe the method of accountability by clearly indicating the allocation of duties and responsibilities of their officers. viii. There must be regular and systematic audit of the functioning of these authorities.

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