The National Green Tribunal has refused to review its order directing devotees to maintain silence while standing in front of the ‘shivling’ in the Amarnath cave in Kashmir.
The green panel said there was no “patent error” in its last year order and the direction was passed in the interest of the environment as well as the Amarnath cave, which is a place of faith for many devotees.
A bench headed by acting Chairperson Justice U D Salvi said the tribunal has heard all the parties in the case and sufficient opportunity was given to the respondents to place relevant material in support of their contention.
“The tribunal acted upon the record placed before it, including the status report and the submissions made. We do not see any patent error in the case particularly when the impugned orders have been passed in the interest of the environment in the precincts of Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine — a place of faith for multitude of Indians and the populace world over and with a view to preserve its pristinity(sic) for times to come.
“We also cannot sit in appeal over the orders passed by us while exercising the review jurisdiction. Hence dismissed,” the bench said.
The order came on a plea filed by Amarnath Shrine Board seeking review of the NGT order on the ground that it was “bad in law” as a decision in a case cannot be based on grounds outside the pleadings of the parties.
“The tribunal under the NGT Act has no jurisdiction to regulate internal affairs of the petitioner and matters of this kind which pertain to smooth running of the pilgrimage to Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine.
“The tribunal’s directions have no connection with the environment whatsoever. Such directions although purporting to be ‘to ensure that there are no adverse impacts of noise, heat, vibrations etc, upon the Amarnathji Maha Shivling’, are not based on any scientific report or study or recommendations of the expert committee,” the Board said in its plea.
The tribunal had on December 14 last year clarified that it has not imposed any restriction, including on chanting of mantras and singing of bhajans inside the Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas.
Following protests over its decision, the green panel said it has neither intended nor declared the entire area as a “silence zone”.
It said the only restriction imposed was that any devotee or any individual should maintain silence while standing in front of the “Amarnath Ji Maha Shivling”, a natural formation in the cave.
The NGT had said the restriction was not applicable to any other part, including the main stairs leading to the holy cave.
The tribunal also clarified that on the last stairs approximately 30 steps leading to the cave, it should be ensured that no pilgrim carries any material as it is already the practice of the Board.
There was no restriction of any kind below the stairs, it had said.