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Right To Live In Healthy Environment: A Perspective

Across the global economy, people are seeking for potential solutions of how to establish a health-care option that makes individuals to have regular access to health-care services. We must consider that if the modern world is to live to tell the tale, then advance healthy living is essential.

Healthier lifestyle conditions and exact adequate fitness are no longer merely a required prerequisite; they are also considered as an intrinsic right for each and every man or woman, and they play an important part in the country's national, social & economic maturity. Illness and misfortunes have had a hold on humans from the beginning of time.

A person's health and the environment in which he lives are inextricably linked. The catena of oil leaks in present Visakhapatnam, Delhi's pollution levels, and the prevalent water constraint in the majority of Indian cities has become the environmental hot potato. The same may be said about the danger indications of highly hazardous circumstances.[1]

The Indian parliament has legislated environmental conservation with the essence of vital rights and duties, as many people's businesses motive has transcended their environmental stewardship. A man or woman is said to have a healthy lifestyle if he or she has not been deprived of any essential rights and has not been refused access to a healthy source of income.

To achieve the same, our constitution is one of the few world constitutions with explicit provisions for environmental protection. Though it is obvious that legislators did not place any emphasis on environmental protection, vehicle emissions, or rights pertaining to a clean environment while crafting the constitution, when society demanded it, it was inserted by amendment of 1976 (42nd amendment).

Under the DPSP & Fundamental Duties, the Indian constitution provides clear provisions for environmental conservation and preservation. Fundamental rights were very well to be the foundations upon which the Central government was built. The concept of the Right to a Healthy Environment has been aided by wider constitutional provisions of Part III of the Constitution. Furthermore, former environment union minister Jayanthi Natarajan advocated in 2012 that the right to a healthy environment be considered a fundamental right and that it be protected.

The constitutional recognition of the right to a healthy environment as a fundamental freedom reflects the Indian constitution's guarantee of socio-economic fairness in the preamble.

Origin Of The Idea
It's safe to say that the right to a healthy environment began in the 1970s. The second half of the decade witnessed the emergence of "green movements," which were beginning to gain traction, and the concept of a "right to a healthy environment" was becoming more accepted.

Men have the "basic right to freedom, equality, and appropriate circumstances of existence, in an environment of a quality that enables a life of dignity and well-being," according to a declaration issued at the inaugural UN Conference on the Environment in Stockholm in 1972. It has a serious obligation to save and develop the environment for current and future generations.[2]

The conference approved a non-binding instrument in the form of an action plan that includes recommendations for the parties. This prepared the ground for the establishment of key environmental organisations, but nothing was accomplished from a legislative and legal standpoint, which is claimed to be the most practical and successful method to address environmental issues.

The entrance into force of the International Covenant of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in 1976 was the first step in the legislative framework toward the formation of a right connected to environmental preservation. Article 12 of such text noted that:
The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.[3]

And that the steps shall include:
The improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene.
As a result, it was already recognised that a suitable atmosphere was required in order to attain optimal health.

The worldwide acceptance of nonbinding instruments increased throughout time, but the principles, although acknowledging a healthy environment as a human right, only acknowledged it as a compelling requirement, not as legally binding rights or responsibilities. From this, principles recognising the right to a healthy environment began to emerge more frequently in the national and constitutional legislation of several State Parties to prior international accords; however, the legal standing of the right varied widely among nations.

Constitutional Obligations
Einstein said, the environment is everything that isn't me. Moreover, Section 2 of the environmental (protection) Act, 1986 emphasizes that air, water, land, people, and all other organisms are considered essential environmental elements.[4]

In People United for Better Living in Calcutta v. State of W.B.,[5] the court observed that:
"While it is true that in a developing country there shall have to be developments, but that development shall have to be in closest possible harmony with the environment, which would result in total devastation, though, however, may not be felt in presenti but at some future point of time, but then it would be too late in the day, however, to control and improve the environment."[6]

Likewise, the word "good and healthy environment" refers to a human habitat that is both healthy and safe. The Apex court in the case of Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra and Ors. v. State of UP,[7] recognised and affirmed the first comprehensive judicial reading of Article 21 in respect to establishing the Right to a Healthy Environment as an essential Part of the Right to Life and Personal Liberty in 1985.[8]

Because the court has had to choose between the environment and the state on several occasions, the right to livelihood has been developed for communities impacted by the state.[9] The Court has also taken note of the dispute over the environment and development, concluding that the most desirable stance is a harmonic coexistence of these goals.[10]

In the case of Subhash Kumar v. State of Bihar,[11] the Court clarified how to approach the Right to a Healthy Environment as a component of Article 21. In this case, the term "life" as used in the stated Article was construed broadly, and the court decided to broaden its scope to encompass environmental preservation.

The expanded and extensive reach of Article 21 has been confirmed in a large number of judgments. But, before delving into those legal decisions, it's important to understand the relationship between environmental protection and the constitution, as well as the context and relevant Articles.

Furthermore, Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948 states that everyone has the right to a standard of living that is adequate for his or her health and well-being, including food, clothes, shelter, and medical treatment.[12]

Tackling Injustice
Of all, just because something is recognised as a right in a formal sense in legislation doesn't ensure it will be realised. In many nations, the constitutional right to a healthy environment is only aspirational. In our cultures, there are a lot of powerful interests working against it. Around the world, there is a need for further economic expansion, which is fuelled by natural resource extraction and exploitation. Many individuals who are most reliant on land and resources like woodlands, waterways, and coastlines are already excluded. The entities attempting to profit from these resources frequently disregard the rights of these as well disadvantaged groups.

Assume, however, that you are a member of a community that is being harmed by a mining operation. It's far simpler to build a case in court if you can claim your rights are being infringed because someone is ruining the environment on which your community depends, rather than having to show that environmental damage affects your right to health.

So, it gives municipal, regional, and national human rights agencies a clearer legal framework to assess these allegations. If the authorities haven't been sympathetic to your case, you could choose to take it up with your country's national human rights commission, a regional human rights tribunal, or a worldwide human rights organisation. The more worldwide recognition you have, the more solid a foundation you'll have at that review level.

However, I would want to emphasise that many local communities may already make human rights arguments in regard to environmental conservation. For example, it is without a doubt a violation of human rights if a member of a local community receives death threats or is assassinated as a result of the environmental work they are doing on behalf of their community.

The major focus of this piece of writing was on the notion of the right to a healthy environment as a basic right, but the implications of that right should not be overlooked. Maintaining the balance between these two conferred rights is a critical duty for the government. It is self-evident that factories are the primary sources of pollution.

Meanwhile, the government cannot simply shut down all sectors that endanger the environment, as this would stymie the country's overall growth. Because progress and progress are necessary for a developing country like India, a country cannot deplete its growth or vice versa in order to establish a healthy atmosphere. Since a result, both the right to growth and the right to a healthy environment should be respected, as both are necessary for the future and current generations' well-being.

As previously stated, Article 21 is the only fundamental right that implicitly guarantees the basic right to a healthy environment given the Supreme Court's several extensive interpretations. However, as there are Res Integra problems such as whether or not it is conceivable to establish a pollution-free environment, a clear framework on the aforementioned right is urgently needed.

How will the administration strike a balance between development and environmental protection? And so forth. Furthermore, the government should educate the general public on the notion that personal economic interests should take a back seat to national interests.

  1. Corey J.A. Bradshaw, Xingli Giam, Navjot S. Sodhi, Evaluating the relative environmental impact of countries, 5 PLUS ONE (2010),
  2. Human Development Report 2014 Sustaining human progress: Reducing vulnerabilities and building resilience, United Nations Development Programme, (last visited June 12, 2021).
  3. International Covenant Of Economic, Social, And Cultural Rights, Article 12,
  4. Section 2 of the environmental (protection) Act, 1986.
  5. People United for Better Living in Calcutta v. State of W.B., AIR 1993 Cal 215.
  6. Id.
  7. Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra and Ors. v. State of UP, (1985) SCR (3) 169.
  8. T. Damodar Rao v. Municipal Corpn., Hyderabad, AIR 1987 AP 171.
  9. Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corpn., AIR 1986 SC 180.
  10. Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action v. Union of India, AIR 1995 SC 2252.
  11. Subhash Kumar v. State of Bihar & Ors, (1991) INSC 3.
  12. Universal Declaration Of Human Rights (UDHR), 1948, Article 25

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