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A compendium study of provisions related to Environmental Protection in India

India is the first country to provide the constitutional protection to environment. As the time passes problem of pollution and environment started drawing attention toward it. In 1972, Late Mrs. Indira Gandhi attended the United Nation Conference (U.N.C) on Human Environment at Stockholm. She emphasized on problem relating to environmental condition.

Two resolutions which consist of Magna Carta of environmental protection and sustainable development:

  1. Man have right to freedom, equality and life with dignity, and
  2. Have some responsibility to protect and improve environment and safeguard.
It is the basic right of every person to live in pollution free environment with dignity. It is the obligation of �State� as well as �Citizen� to protect and clean the environment. It clearly lays down that protection and improvement of environment is a national duty of every citizen.

Legislative power in respect with Environmental Protection:

  • Indian Constitution deal with legislative power which relate to protection of environment.
  • As divided into 3 lists i.e. Union, State and Concurrent list.
  • Union List:
    Industry, Regulation and development of Oil field and Mineral Resource, Regulation of Mine and Mineral, etc.
  • State List:
    Public Health and Sanitation, Water, Gas and Gas Work, Land and Colonization, etc.
  • Concurrent List:
    Forest, Factories, Electricity, Protection of Wild Animal and Birds, etc.

Indian's International Obligation:

India is important member of international community. Specific provision has been made in respect to constitutional provision.

Article 51 lays down:

It promote international peace and security in the country to maintain just and honorable relations between nation foster respect for international law and treaty obligations in the dealings of organized peoples with one another and encourage settlement of international disputes by arbitration.

And impact of Article 253 has broad provision with entries of Union List, as parliament can pass any law relating to environment protection and it is applicable to state and it cannot be challenged before any court on ground that parliament have no legislative power to make law.

People's Union of Civil Liberties v. U.O.I:

The Supreme Court held that the provision of international covenant which clarify and to fundamental right guaranteed by our constitution can certainly be relied upon court as facts of that fundamental right and hence enforceable as such.

Fundamental duties to protect and improve environment:

Article 51a (g) deals with Fundamental Duties with respect to environmental, �It shall lays down to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.�

Environmental problem is concern to constitutional priority of every citizen to protect it.

Constitutional direction to State and Citizen concern:

The 42nd amendment act 1976, added new directive principle in Article 48A which relate to protection and improvement of environment.
�The state shall try to protect and clean the environment and to safe the forests and wildlife of the country.�

Shri Sachidanand Pandey v. State of W.B.:
The Supreme Court remarked that whenever a problem of ecology was brought before the court, the court was bound to beard in the mind Article 48A and Article 51A (g) of the constitution.

Fundamental Right and Environmental Protection:

Stockholm declaration proclaim his reflection under Article 14, Article 19(1)(g) and Article 21.

Article 14: Right to Equality

It states that this article contains two important principle of equality:
  • Equality before law
  • Equal protection of law
In Bangalore Medical Trust v. B.S. Muddappa an improvement scheme was prepared by the City Improvement Board of Bangalore for the purpose of extending the city. A low-level park was to be developed for which an area was kept under this scheme. But under the direction of the chief minister the area kept for the low-level park was to be converted into the civic amenity site where the hospital was to be constructed. As soon as the construction began, the residents moved to the high court.

Article 21:

Include Right to live in Healthy Environment.
The concept of �right to life' �personal liberty' and �procedure established by law' contain under Article 21. The Rural litigation and Entitlement Kendra v. State of U.P. is first case indicating the recognition of right to live in healthy environment as part of Article 21.

In M.C. Mehta v. Union of India which is popularly known as Oleum gas leakage, the Supreme Court once again implied came to recognize the right to live in pollution free environment is a part of fundamental right to life in clean environment under Article 21 of constitution.

In Vellore Citizen's Welfare Forum v. U.O.I, popularly known as T.N. Tanneries Case. The Supreme court laid down that in view of constitution provision contained Article 21, 47, 48A, 51A(g) and other relevant provision contained in Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 and Environmental Protection Act 1986, Precautionary Principle and Polluter Pay Principle are part of environmental law.

Article 19(1)(g):

This article provides that all citizen shall have the right to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business in any part of the country. Accordingly in cases involving order to pollute industrial unit, Court face task of balancing the impact of environment.

In M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, The fact situation was that tanning industries located on the bank of the river Ganga were alleged to be polluting the river. The Court issued directions to them to setup effluent plants within six months from the date of order. It was specified that failure to do so would entail end of the business.

Writ Jurisdiction and Prevention of Environment Pollution:

Writ jurisdictions have been provided under Article 32 and Article 226 of the Indian constitution. Supreme Court under Article 32 and High Court under Article 226. As environmental law is generally a statutory principle. The evolution of concept of Public Interest Litigation (P.I.L) under the writ jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and High Court have brought revolutionary change in the jurisdiction in developing environment for human right approach.

Written By: Irish Ranjan (Amity University Lucknow Campus)
e-mail:- [email protected]

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