The Supreme Court on Monday reminded the NGT that it has to decide on the merits and maintainability of the issue raised by the Tamil Nadu government on Vedanta's plea challenging the closure of its Sterlite plant at Tuticorin.
A bench of Justices R F Nariman and Indu Malhotra said the National Green Tribunal (NGT) should consider these issues after a three-member committee, constituted by the green panel to look into environmental compliance and other issues of Sterlite plant, submitted its report.
"Since our order is not mentioned in the NGT's order of August 20, we need to remind the tribunal that once the report of the committee comes, it will decide the issues of merit and maintainability," the bench said.
Senior advocate C A Sundaram, appearing for Vedanta, said he had no problem if the NGT decides both the issues as all relevant materials were with them.
"We are only on one point, that our order has to be obeyed. How can it go ahead without deciding the maintainability," the bench said.
Senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, appearing for Tamil Nadu, said the parties can go to the high court also.
Sundaram said let there be no committee and the arguments on the issues of merit and maintainability should be held before the NGT.
On August 31, the green panel had appointed former Meghalaya High Court Chief Justice Tarun Agrawal as the head of a three-member committee to decide on environmental issues related to the Sterlite Copper plant. The Tamil Nadu government had on May 28 ordered closure of the Sterlite plant after police firing claimed lives of over two dozen people, who were holding protests over there on environmental concerns.