The Supreme Court has set aside a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order directing compensation of Rs 20 lakh to the heirs of the victims of a firecracker factory blast in Tamil Nadu's Virudhunagar district last year in which 19 workers were killed.
A bench of justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari noted that the NGT proceeded ex-parte and directed the tribunal to reconsider the case afresh.
"Accordingly, in the interest of justice, we deem it appropriate to set aside the impugned judgment and order and relegate the parties before the National Green Tribunal for reconsideration of the entire matter afresh after giving an opportunity to the parties concerned, including the appellants, and to pass appropriate orders in accordance with the law," the bench in a recent order said.
The parties appearing through counsel before the top court were asked to appear before the tribunal on February 14, 2022, and the NGT was directed to proceed with the matter on that day or assign a suitable date for hearing, as may be convenient to it.
The top court was hearing an appeal filed by Tamil Nadu Fireworks And Amorces Manufacturers Association challenging the NGT's order dated June 11, 2021.
The tribunal had directed Tamil Nadu through District Magistrate, Virudhunagar to pay compensation of Rs 20 lakh to the heirs of the victims who died.
It had directed the State Legal Services Authority to provide legal aid to ensure that payment is made to genuine heirs of the deceased and to the injured without undue hassle.
The NGT had formed a committee headed by a former high court judge and directed it to submit a report on the firecracker factory blast in Tamil Nadu's Virudhunagar district.
The explosion occurred on February 12, 2021, when some chemicals were being mixed to produce fireworks at the unit in Acchankulam village.
The green panel had said that to secure credible facts, it is constituting an eight-member committee including former high court judge Justice K Kannan and representatives of the Union Environment Ministry.