Approval of Chairman of State Pollution Control Board Necessary For Initiating Criminal Actions Against Defaulters Under Air Act: Karnataka High Court

The Karnataka High Court has directed the Chairman of State’s Pollution Control Board to hold necessary workshops to educate and train its officers as regard initiation of criminal proceedings under the Air and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act. This was seen in the case of B.V. BYRE GOWDA v. STATE OF KARNATAKA Case No: CRIMINAL PETITION NO. 8067 OF 2019 and the judgment was presided over by the Coram of Justice Suraj Govindaraj.

Facts of the case-

In the present case, a petition was filed by B.V. Byre Gowda, proprietor of M/S Chennakeshava Stone Crushers and quashed the case registered against him under Section 21 and 22 of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution Act) 1981 read with Section 37 of the Air Act. The Deputy Environment Officer (DEO) had filed criminal proceedings against the petitioner under Section 200 of CrPC, following which, the trial court had taken cognizance of the matter back in 2015 and had issued summons to the accused.


The bench made a note that Section 15 of the Air Act provides that the Board may delegate to the Chairman such of its powers and functions under this Act as it may deem fit. In the present matter, the application is made to the DEO and the AEO (Asst. Environment Office).

Against this backdrop, the High Court Referring to the resolution issued by the Board in 2007 delegating powers to DEO, the bench said, “if any action is required to be taken by DEO and AEO, such action can be taken after getting prior approval of the Chairman for initiation of such an action.”

Following this, the court said, “A perusal of the Board resolution indicates that there is a condition and limitation imposed on the delegatee exercising powers under the resolution. That without obtaining approval from the Chairman, no such proceedings could be initiated even though the delegate is otherwise authorised to do so. Thus, I am of the considered opinion that the approval of the Chairman is not an administrative decision but is a condition precedent and/or limitation imposed by the Board on the delegatee exercising power under Section 15 of the AIR Act.”

Finally, the HC held, “The said order of cognizance does not indicate any application of mind on part of the Magistrate as regards the complaint and the cognizance thereof.”

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Judgement reviewed by Alaina Fatima.

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