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Panaji, Dec 23 (IANS) The Pune bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to be cautious in future "while criticising any other pillars of democracy".
In an order dismissing a contempt petition filed against Parrikar for making comments against the NGT when he was the Goa chief minister, the tribunal said that Parrikar should have behaved like a "statesman" instead of a "popular leader".
The order passed earlier this month, following a petition filed by Goa-based activist Kashinath Shetye and others in which they claimed that Parrikar’s comments made in June 2014, were in contempt of the NGT and lowered the reputation of the judiciary.
Parrikar in a press conference held in June had accused the NGT of judicial over reach and that its order banning sand mining had resulted in rising prices of sand as well as black-marketing of the resource, which ended up with the state losing revenue.
The former chief minister had also accused the NGT of "not acting like a tribunal", but like a high court.
Parrikar had also demanded the setting up of a NGT bench in Goa, claiming the state court could not afford to send its officers to Pune (NGT’s western zone bench) every now and then.
In its order dismissing the contempt petition, the NGT bench of Justice V.R. Kinalgaonkar and Ajay Deshpande said: "In our opinion, the respondent should have taken care in public speeches to use the words like a statesman instead of a popular leader of a group, since his position was that of a chief minister, which is a most important and coveted post in a state."
"We need not add anything further, so as to put a word of advice in this context. Because, we are hopeful that the respondent will take caution in future, while criticising any other pillar of the democracy," it said.
The NGT bench, however, said it would not take any punitive action against the former chief minister because such action was warranted only "when such a party is found to be dis-respective and has intentionally disobeyed, disregarded the directions/orders of the tribunal, or has/have committed contempt by undue criticism, so as to lower down image of the judiciary in esteem of the public with ill-intention".
"The utterances or speeches of a chief minister, must be considered in the background of his ‘intention’ in order to find out whether he desired to weaken the authority of law and majesty of the courts," it said.