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The environment furnishes all essentials for life and so there has been a close link between the
environment and human beings. Without a natural and congenial environment, human existence
is not possible on earth. Since time immemorial, the man had made conscious and determined
efforts to make use of the natural resources and to modify his surroundings so that the adverse
impact caused by extremes of temperature rainfall and predators may be reduced. In the quest of
making life more comfortable the man has always exploited the nature. Agriculture,
industrialization and infrastructural developments are the causes of exploitation of natural
resources. Human activities create a variety of wastes and by-products which accumulate over a
period of time and may become toxic to the naturally growing plants, animal and the mankind.
Indiscriminate use of fertilizers and pesticides has added to the problem. The rapid and
unplanned industrialization has given birth to factories emitting noxious gas fumes and toxic
effluents, making life more difficult on earth. These things are constantly causing damage to
environment. It is also the duty of the state to protect the environment as embodied under article
48-A, 39 (e) and 47 of the Indian Constitution. So in order to deal with these ever-growing
problems, many acts have also been enacted by the parliament but it is a court which always
keeps a check on proper implementation of these enactments and judiciary had played an
important role in interpreting the laws to protect the environment.

The term “environment” owes its genesis to a French word ‘environ’, which means ‘encircle’. It
encompasses within its ambit land, water, flora, fauna, living creatures, forest and everything
above the earth. ‘Environment’ can be understood to refer to all components surrounding man,
which consist of two important major parts.
1. Physical
2. Natural
Physical - Physical environment constitutes lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere means
land, water and air respectively.
Natural - The natural environment constitutes living organisms including human beings, flora
(plants) and fauna (animals), etc.

F. It may be noted that all this is perceived in the definition of environment provided by the Environment (Protection) Act. Thus. and the inter-relationships which exist among and between water. The courts in India have also given a new interpretation to the constitutional provision relating to protection and improvement of the environment (the intended meaning of the environment in the constitution) may be explained with reference to the following head: A. being the fundamental law of the land has a binding force on citizens. the clause sovereign socialist secular democratic republic was substituted. the rivers and seas which give us water. I. and Fundamental Duties Federal System of Govt. G. H. the earth which feeds us. PREAMBLE Initially in the preamble of the Constitution for the clause sovereign democratic republic. 1976 and subsequent amendments. THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION AND ENVIRONMENT The Constitution of India came into force on 26th January. non – citizens as well as the State. C. and human beings. 1950.e. Municipalities & Panchayats Role of Indian Judiciary in Environment protection A. the air we breathe. certain specific provisions have been incorporated by the Constitution (Forty Second Amendment) Act. which provides for specific provision for the protection and improvement of the Environment. the constitution contains no specific provisions for environmental protection. plants. (Distribution of Legislative Powder). Preamble The Constitution Forty Second Amendment Fundamental Rights. which states: Environment includes water. E. The importance of this 2 . other living creatures. air and land. air and land. B. D. micro-organisms and property. Indian Constitution is one of the very few constitutions in t he world. Originally. The constitution. However. The Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of the State Policy underline our national commitment to protect and improve the environment. 1986.Man cannot survive on the earth without plant and animal life. Directive Principles of State Policy. environment is the natural system on which we depend.

51-A. developing and under developed countries. B. According to Article 48-A “the State shall Endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country”. a new provision Article 51-A in the form of “Fundamental Duties” was also incorporated by the 42nd Amendment. Further. under the leadership of the then Prime Minister.amendment can easily be visualized. It is problem of the developed. The problem of environmental pollution is social problem affecting the society at large. and on the other hand it casts/imposes a duty on every citizen to help in the preservation of natural environment. Directive Principles of State Policy. This amendment imposes a number of new obligations on the State. C. CONSTITUTION FORTY SECOND AMENDMENT. Indira Gandhi. The problem of environmental pollution like the population problem is ever increasing. 1976 In 1976. Environmental pollution is one of the most important contemporary social problems that a nation is called upon to face. rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures”. “it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests. the Constitution (Forty Second Amendment) Act was passed and the provisions relating to the protection of environment for the first time were incorporated by adding a new provision Article 48-A in the Chapter. lakes. The above two provision impose two-fold responsibilities. it gives directive to the State for protection and improvement of environment. According to the sub-clause (g) of Art. FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS 3 . The State is saddled with heavy responsibility of eradication of social hazards and social evils and of providing insurance of social justice to every citizen of the country. Smt. On the one hand.

The public places. State of U. deals with fundamental rights.  ARTICLE 15(2)(B) According to Art. The preamble to our constitution ensures socialistic pattern of the society and decent standard of life.21 and Art. race. race. “No citizen shall. Art. place of birth etc. 4 . should be made available to the public. to make use of the public places the general public. caste. roads and places of public resort. Union of India1. restriction or condition with regard to: the use of wells. The R. Art. liability. religion. Articles 15(2) (b). place of birth or any of them be subjected to any disability. Article 21 is the heart of the fundamental rights and has received expanded meaning from time to time after the decision of the Supreme Court in Maneka Gandhi vs. In simple words.L. which can be pollution free environment. free of danger of disease and infection. 2 AIR 1988 SC 2187 (Popularly known as Dehradun Quarrying Case). 15(2) (b). It is the first case of this kind in India.24 provide for specific provision for environmental protection. The right to live in a healthy environment as part of Art. which are part and parcel of the human environment. “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”.Part –III of the Constitution.a life of dignity to be lived in a proper environment.21 of the Constitution was first recognized in the case of Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra vs. involving issues relating to environment and ecological balance. on grounds only of religion.21 guarantees a fundamental right to life .12 to 35. Kendra and others in a letter to the Supreme Court complained about the illegal / 1 AIR 1978 SC 597. maintained wholly or partly out for state funds or dedicated to the use of general public. bathing ghats. caste. containing Arts.  ARTICLE 21 According to Article 21 of the constitution. & E. Art. sex.P 2. 15(2) prohibit discrimination on the ground of sex.

In people’s Union for Democratic Rights vs. 24 could be enforced against any one. As a result. 3 AIR 1987 SC 1086 (Popularly known as “Oleum Gas Leak Case”) 4 AIR 1987 A.. Mehta vs. The Supreme Court treated the letter as writ petition under Art. Dehradun belt. Hyderabad.unauthorized mining in the Missouri. In M. Further the A.21 of the Constitution. Union of India 5. The court directed the Central and State Governments to take necessary steps to prevent illegal mining and to re-afforesation in the area of mining. the Supreme Court held that the prohibition under Art. It says that “No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment” this provisions is certainly in the interest of public health and part of the environment. High Court in T. The respondents contended / argued that the write petition was registered in 1983 and the Environment (Protection) Act was passed in 1986 and hence the criminal proceedings cannot be initiated with retrospective effect. 4 laid down that right to live in healthy environment was specially declared to be part of Art.39 (e) and 39 (f) under Directive Principles of State Policy provide for the protection of the health and strength of children below the age of 14 years. Further. the ecology of the surrounding area was adversely affected and it led to the environmental disorder.P. Art. Municipal Corporation.O. S.  ARTICLE 24 Article 24 of the Constitution speaks about exploitation of child labour.32 of the Constitution and directed to stop the excavation (illegal mining) under the Environment (Protection) Act. 1986.Damodar Rao vs. Union of India3.21 to the Constitution. The Hon’ble Supreme Court treated the right to live in pollution free environment as a part of fundamental right to life under Art.P. The court rejected the contention of the respondents and held that the provisions of procedural law shall apply to ordinary criminal cases and not to the environmental cases. be it the State or private individual. 171 5 AIR 1982 SC 1473 5 .C.

and  Children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment. Further. 1976 provides for Equal Justice and Free Legal Aid. It imposes an imperative duty upon the State to provide free legal aid to the poor litigant so as to secure him equal protection of laws against his well to do opponent.39 (b) means all things. the expression ‘distribution’ in Art. 1986.  ARTICLE 39 (A) It was inserted by the Constitution 942nd Amendment) Act. The directive principles form the fundamental feature and are designed to achieve socio economic goals. parliament enacted the Child Labour (prohibition and Regulation) Act. deals with Directive Principles of State Policy. In includes those. The Act prohibits specifically the employment of children in certain industries. D. DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY Part IV of the Constitution.  Distribution of ownership and control of the material resources community to the common good.39 (b) does not mean 6 .  To protect health and strength of workers and tender age of children and to ensure that they are not forced by economic necessity to entire avocations unsuited to their age or strength. which are already vested in the State but also in the hands of private individuals. which are capable producing wealth for the community.  Equal pay for equal work for both men and women.  ARTICLE 39 (B) The expression ‘material source’ under Art.In pursuance of this obligation. It promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunities. It provides following rights to citizens Equal right of men and women to adequate means of livelihood. Containing Articles 36 to 51.  To ensure that the economic system should not result in concentration of wealth and means of production to the common detriment.

FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES Art. removal. 1976 with a view to emphasize the constructive role of the State with regard to children. Art. 49 require the State to protect c-very monument or place or object of artistic or historic interest (declared by or under law made by parliament to be of national importance) from spoliation.  ARTICLE 49 It deals with protection of monuments and places and objects of national importance. 39(1) was amended by the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act. it should take steps for preserving and improving the breeds and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.that one’s property is taken over and is distributed to others. Art. 1976. Art.  ARTICLE 48 It deals with organization of agriculture and animal husbandry. It also includes nationalization which is an effective means to prevent concentration of wealth in a few hands so as to benefit the society at large. The improvement of public health also includes the protection and improvement of environment without which public health cannot be assured. which deals with 'Fundamental Duties' under Part IV-A.  ARTICLE 51 (A) (g) 7 . disfigurement. E. 47 provide that the State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties. 51 -A enlists ten fundamental duties designed for restructuring and building a welfare society.  ARTICLE 39(1) Art. In particular.48 directs the State to take steps to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines.  ARTICLE 47 Art. disposal or export. destruction.51-A was added under the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act.

 UNION LIST ENTRY 52 53 54 56 57 SUBJECTS Industries Regulation and development of oil fields and mineral oil resources. Fisheries. 8 . the State List or List –II. etc.  STATE LIST 6 14 18 21 23 24 Public health and sanitation. The legislative powers under the scheme of the constitution is divided into three lists viz. lakes. allocation of legislative authority is very important. FEDERAL SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT From environmental point of view. It provides "it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests. Regulation of mines and mineral development subject to the provisions of List-I.. (To put it simply Art. Agriculture. the Union List or List – I. Article 246 distributes the subjects of legislative power in these three lists between the Centre and the States. Fishing and fisheries beyond territorial waters. Land. Regulation and development of inter-state rivers and river-valleys. Regulation of mines and mineral development. Industries subject to the provisions of List-I. Economic and social planning. colonization. 51(A) (g) refers to the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect and improve 'natural environment') F.It specifically deals with the fundamental duty with respect to environment.  CONCURRENT LIST 17 A 17 B 20 Forest Protection of wild animals and birds. The constitution of India deals exhaustively with legislative powers pertaining to environmental law. rivers and wild life and to have compassion for living creatures. the Concurrent List or List – III. protection against pest and prevention of plant diseases.

1974. the following are related to environment. Subject to the provisions of the Constitution.20 A Population control and family planning ENACTED LAWS ON ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION There are about 200 Central and State Legislation on environmental protection. in the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act.  Animal husbandry. The most important environmental legislation. 6 Given under Part IX of Indian Constitution.  Fisheries. 9 .  Land improvement. implementation of land reforms.  Agriculture. dairying and poultry. passed by the parliament under Article 249 of the Constitution is . 1981. Part – XI (Arts. the legislature of a State will endow the Panchayats and Municipalities with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self government. land consolidation and soil conservation. 245-263) of the constitution provides for the distribution of legislative powers between the union and the states. and the Environment (Protection) Act. Among them. including agricultural extension.  Minor irrigation. MUNCIPALITIS & PANCHAYATS Parts IX and IXA have been added to the Constitution by 73rd and 74th Amendments in 1992 to give constitutional sanction to democracy at the grass root level through Panchayats and Municipalities.  PANCHAYATS6 The Panchayats are assigned with the powers to perform such functions as mentioned in 29 subjects. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act. 1974.The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act. 1986. water management and watershed development. G.

bridges. Health and sanitation. Minor forest produce. culverts. It is started in the year 1970. sanitation conservancy and solid waste management. which introduced Article 39-A in the Indian Constitution to provide equal justice and 7 Given under Part IX A of Indian Constitution. Article 32 is right to constitutional remedies and Article 226 (Power of High Courts to issue certain writs) of the Indian Constitution. primary health centres and dispensaries. Rural housing.  Urban forestry. It is the new jurisprudence and is called "Jurisprudence of Masses".  Regulation of slaughter houses and tanneries. industrial and commercial and solid waste management.         Social forestry and farm forestry.  MUNICIPALITIES7 The following subjects related to environment in the Twelfth Schedule of the Constitution are to be taken care of by the Municipalities (Nagarpalikas).  Regulation of land-use and construction of buildings. 10 . prevention of cruelty to animals. Drinking water.  Cattle pounds. Fuel and fodder. H. gardens.  Provision of urban amenities and facilities such as parks. ROLE OF INDIAN JUDICIARY Judiciary plays the vital role in the protection of environment. One of the main developments in the Indian Judiciary is the Public Interest Litigation (PIL). Writ petitions in the form of PILs have been accepted by the High Court’s under Article 20. including hospitals. protection of the environment and promotion of ecological aspects. Maintenance of community assets.  Public health. ferries.  Water supply for domestic.  Slum improvement and up gradation. Roads.  Urban planning including town planning. The PILs got constitutional sanction in the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act 1974. Article 47. waterways and other means of communication. Non-Conventional energy sources. playgrounds.

It does not mean that this industry has the right to destroy the ecology.. to work morally. filed this action to stop tanneries in the State of Tamil Nadu from discharging untreated effluent into agricultural fields. degrade the environment or create health hazards.000 hectares of agricultural land in this tanneries belt has become either partially or totally unfit for legal aid. many landmark judgments are published. PIL of court indicates a person. Many authorities are observing the works of the Govt. Even though section 3(3) of India's Environment Protection Act 1986. VELLORE CITIZEN WELFARE FORUM V. it is estimated that nearly 35. and in particular the polluter pays principles and the precautionary principle. public minded individuals. to start without paying any court fees. Due to PILs. It was considered by the court that the industry is a Foreign Exchange Earner. and that the 170 types of chemicals used in the chrome tanning processes have severely polluted the local drinking water. NGOs. They found that the tanners have absolutely no regard for the healthy environment in and around their tanneries. waterways. have become a part of customary international law. The effluents discharged have been stored like a pond openly in the most of the places adjacent to cultivable lands with easy access for the animals and the people. Also it was considered that one moot point is whether all the cost of the lives of lakhs of people with increasing human population the activities of the tanneries should be encouraged on monetary considerations. Judges on their own. Among other types of environmental pollution caused by these tanneries. allows the Central Government to create an authority with 11 . The PIL encouraged the affected individuals (affected by any project). Sustainable development. voluntary organizations. whether court orders of PILs are carrying out or not. open lands and waterways. FACTS Petitioner. authorities or Govt. UNION OF INDIA The Indian Supreme Court has accepted in VELLORE case that the precautionary principle is part of the environmental law of the country. the Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum.

prevent and attack the causes of environmental degradation. This fund will be used to restore the environment and to compensate affected persons. The court also explained the “Precautionary Principle” in the context of the municipal law as under – Environmental measures by the state government and statutory authorities. The Court ordered the Central Government to establish an authority to deal with the situation created by the tanneries and other polluting industries in the State of Tamil Nadu. and identify the I. The “onus of proof” is on the actor or developer/ industrialist to show that his action is environmentally benign. and the compensation recovered as arrears of land revenue. Where there are threats of serious and irreversible damage. and then determine the compensation to reverse this environmental damage and compensate those who have suffered from the pollution. Loss to the ecology/environment. If an industry sets up the necessary pollution control devices now. This authority shall implement the precautionary principle and the polluters pays principle. individuals/families who have suffered because of the pollution. the Court directed the Central Government to take immediate action under the provisions of this act. They must anticipate. it is still liable to pay for the past pollution it has generated. IT’S APPLICATION 12 .000 fine which will be put into an "Environment Protection Fund". If a polluter refuses to pay compensation. Thus. Expert bodies will help frame a scheme to reverse the environmental pollution. his industry will be closed. No news industries shall be permitted to be set up within the listed prohibited areas.powers to control pollution and protect the environment. or individual pollution control devices. and if they do not. The Collector/District Magistrates shall collect and disburse this money. All tanneries must set up common effluent treatment plants. II. the Superintendent of Police and the Collector/District Magistrate/Deputy Commissioner in each of the respective districts is authorised to close the plants down. Each tannery in the listed district is subject to a Rupees 10. it has not done so. lack of scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.

Expert studies proved that emissions from coke/coal based industries in the Taj Trapezium (TTZ) had damaging effect on the Taj. 13 .C. Union of India for protecting the Taj Mahal from air pollution. The court observed that the atmospheric pollution in TTZ has to be eliminated at any cost.The precautionary principle came to be directly applied in M. The “onus of proof” is on an industry to show that its operation with the aid of coke /coal is environmentally benign. They further stated that “the environmental measures must anticipate. It is rather proved beyond doubt that the emissions generated by the use of coke/coal by the industries in TTZ are the main polluters of ambient air. Mehta V. They stated that not even one percent chance can be taken when-human life apart-the preservation of a prestigious monument like Taj is involved. prevent and attack the causes of environmental degradation.

Under the PIL.” 14 . The Supreme Court has not only played a leading role in the implementation of environmental laws but also interpreted the right to life under Article 21 to include a right to healthy and pollution free environment. It would be apt to conclude with the words of Luc Ferry who said that “The world we have treated as an object. organization or individual. Consequently.CONCLUSION There has been a paradigm shift over the concept of right to environment since the last three decades. Hence. The environmental jurisprudence in India developed through the instrument of Public Interest Litigation (PIL). although certain cases have incorporated a wider prospective of the constitution. the judiciary liberalized the concept of locus standi and thereby empowered the people to approach the judiciary when the public interest is harmed by either the action of the state. The judiciary made several attempt to resolve the conflict between the development and environment. activities posing a major threat to the environment were curtailed so as to protect the individual’s inherent right to wholesome environment.Article 21 has been relied in the plethora of cases. the Hon’ble Supreme court of India. has become a subject again. as a fundamental right. primarily after a series of global cooperative initiatives. The courts in India have played a distinguishing role in gradually enlarging the scope of a qualitative living by applying various issues of environmental protection. has given birth to a wide range of doctrines and principles have intern been adopted and implemented throughout the country. apart from being environmental friendly.