To know about 'Environmental Crime
' first we should understand the meaning of
The word environment originated from the old French word 'environer' which means
'surround', 'encase', and 'encircle'. . Environment alludes to the amalgamation
of conditions or surrounding where residing creatures like humans, animals, and
plants live or sustain and non-living things exist.
Environment addresses the actual parts of the earth, wherein man is a
significant component influencing the environment.
The environment contains a connecting arrangement of physical, organic, and
social components which are interlinked exclusively as well as on the whole in
Men And Environment Relationship
The two words Man and Environment are not new to human history and the
interrelation between them is well established. Pondering about the environment
is just old as our first human precursors. Their survival depended on knowledge
of it. Concern for the environment is likewise not new. Since old times,
individuals have known the significance of saving it. Worshipping of trees and
rivers, animals and birds was not based on superstition but there was a hidden
message about preserving and protecting the environment.
Environmental crime is a serious crime not exclusively to the current society
yet additionally to the upcoming age of people, creatures, and plants.
The term 'environmental crime
' does not have a universally accepted definition,
and in most instances, the definition is based on the convenience of
interpretation. The genesis of such an idea can be owed to deleterious
acts/omissions that are responsible for the violation of the environmental
According to the United Nations Crime and Justice Research Institute,
'Environmental Crimes encompass a broad list of illicit activities, including
illegal trade in wildlife, smuggling of ozone-depleting substances, illicit
trade of hazardous waste, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, and
illegal logging and trade in timber.1
Legally speaking for an act or omission to be categorised as an 'environmental
crime' it should:
- Cause direct /indirect damage to the environment, and
- be prohibited by the law.
The Five Serious Environmental Crimes Are:
Wild Animal Traffic The third-largest illegal business in the world after drug and arms
trafficking� wild animal traffic raises a serious threat to the world's
biodiversity survival. We can find a few actors engaged in this crime,
however, buyers are among the main ones as this crime would vanish in the
event that supply and the excessive costs that individuals get to pay for
them on the black market ceased to exist. As an unpleasant side note the
more endangered the species is, the higher the cost is for it. The most
requested species are tropical birds (parrots, macaws, etc), arachnids (some
types of tarantulas), monkeys (capuchins, chimpanzees, lemurs), and so
forth. But animal trafficking does not only intend to sell them as company
animals, we also find serious cases like the sale of an elephant or
rhinoceros ivory on the black market used to enrich things or potentially in
conventional Chinese medication
Indiscriminate Logging The main cause of deforestation. The Amazon destruction, the largest
rainforest in the world speeded up in 2013 with a 29% rise in deforestation,
according to the Brazilian government. The uncontrolled logging to get wood for
furniture or other goods or even for farmlands is the most serious cause of this
Electronic Waste Mismanagement In the so-called developed countries there are up to 50 million tonnes of
electronic waste every year (computers, TV sets, mobile phones, appliances,
etc). And up to 75% of all these are estimated to leave the official circuit and
a good deal of them are illegally exported to Africa, China or India. It is the
case of Ghana's rubbish dump, a large electronic waste dump coming from the
Finning A hundred million sharks are captured every year by specialised ships and up to
70 million of them are captured to only have their fins cut off alive on the
ship and then a kilogram of a shark fin is worth 600 euros in the Asian market,
the finning trade is patently obvious. Besides being beautiful and strong
creatures, sharks are essential animals for the tropic chain in oceans and
therefore essential for their survival.3
Dumping In Rivers And Aquifers
This kind of environmental crime is most often caused by companies, factories
and Public Administrations. Toxic waste coming from factories is usually dumped
in a controlled way, but this is not always the case. In these cases, waste is
uncontrollably released into the environment, while at the same time polluting
rivers, lakes, aquifers etc. This is a very serious crime because not only does
it cause the local wildlife to die or get ill but also, as a result of the water
leaking into the soil, it finds its way to pollute the surrounding flora as
well, affecting the food chain. 4
NCRB Report On Environmental Crime 5
Environment Crimes are the concurrent murder of not one but many individuals,
and of the climate. The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB)'s latest report has
shown that India's overall crime cases increased by 28% in 2020, in comparison
to the previous year. But cases under the 'environment-related offences'
category increased by 78.1% in the country in 2020. This is one of the highest
increases in cases in various crime categories, excluding the offences related
to novel corona virus disease (covid-19) regulations and norms in 2020.
Environment-related offences include violations of the Forest Act, The Forest
Conservation Act, The Wildlife (Protection) Act, The Environmental
(protection) Act, the Air & the Water Pollution Act and the National Green
Under the environment crime category, India, as a whole, reported 61,767 cases
in 2020. This was an increase of 78.1%, in comparison to cases in 2019. This
excluded 7,154 cases pending since 2019.
Tamil Nadu reported the country's highest number of environment-related crimes.
In 2020, the state registered 42,756 cases which was more than three times the
number of cases registered in 2019.
Rajasthan came second among the states, with 9,543 cases registered in 2020; in
2019, this number was 10,782 cases.
Uttar Pradesh (UP) came third with 2,981 cases in 2020. In 2019, the state
registered 1882 cases.
Four- Fifths of the environment-related crimes were registered under the
Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act. There were 49,710 cases of violations
of this law or 80.5% of total environment-related cases in 2020.
Violations of noise pollution control laws of both the Union and State
governments formed the second-highest number of environment-related cases. The
violations accounted for 11.8 per cent of the total cases.
There were 2,287 cases filed under the Forest Act and the Forest Conservation
Act. UP recorded the highest number of cases 1,317 in the country under this
Under the Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972 there were 672 cases, with UP having
the highest number of 185 cases, followed by Rajasthan with 151 cases.
Under the Environment (Protection) Act,1986 the country reported 992 cases, with
UP again having the highest number of cases at 841.
The Statutory Provision Dealing With Environmental Crimes
The chief scarcity that the Indian Environmental Law endure is the lack of the
consideration that environmental crimes are serious and deep and may take the
shape of even an organised crime. The law commission of India has sooner or
later recommended that the liberal punishment concerning environmental crimes
must be amended to stricter punishments. There is a wide range of provisions and
legislations which have been enacted by the Indian government with respect to
Some of the important are discussed hereunder:
The Indian Penal Code,1860
Section 268 accommodates for the offence of public nuisance:
A person is held
liable for the offence of public nuisance in the event that he engages himself
in any act/omission which causes:
- Common injury;
- danger/annoyance to the public/people in the vicinity,
- necessarily causing
injury/obstruction/danger/annoyance to persons who may have occasion to use any
public right. Section 290 penalises the offence of causing a public nuisance
with a fine extending up to 200 rupees. It is indeed astonishing to know that
felons of such crimes can go scot-free by paying a mere penalty of a maximum of
two hundred rupees or even less than that.
Fouling the water of a public spring or supply is considered to be an
environmental crime under section 277 of the IPC. Under this section, to
voluntarily corrupt or foul the water of any public spring or reservoir is an
offence and the person held liable would be published with imprisonment for a
maximum term of 3 months, or with a maximum fine of 500 rupees, or with both.
The making of an atmosphere noxious to health is punishable under the IPC under
Under this section, to voluntarily vitiate the atmosphere of persons in
general dwelling or carrying on business in the neighbourhood or passing along a
public way is a punishable offence. The offence is bound to be punished with a
maximum fine of 500 rupees.
The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973
Chapter x of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 deals with the "maintenance of
public order and tranquillity". Part B and Part C enumerate provisions relating
to Public Nuisance and urgent cases of nuisance and apprehended danger
respectively � both relevant to be considered for environmental protection.
Section 133 (Part B) accommodates the restrictive order for the evacuation of
the nuisance. The District Magistrate. Sub Divisional Magistrate/Executive
Magistrate is enabled to pass a restrictive order for the expulsion of the
nuisance on a report by the police or based on any other information after
considering the evidence.
Section 144 (Part C) provides for urgent powers of the District Magistrate /Sub
� Divisional Magistrate/Sub � Divisional Magistrate /Executive Magistrate to
issue an order in urgent cases of nuisance or, on the other hand, danger in
circumstances where an expedient cure is attractive. This section especially
presents wide powers to the magistrate to manage critical instances of nuisance
or apprehended danger.
The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
The Wildlife Protection Act,1972 laid down a comprehensive set of rules and
regulations with respect to the protection of wildlife in India. It set out the
arrangements for the setting up of public parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and so
on. Sec 51(1) of the Act says that any person who contravenes any provision of
this Act or order made thereunder shall be punishable with imprisonment for a
term which may extend to 3 years or with a fine which may extend to 25 thousand
rupees or both.
The Water (Prevention And Control Of Pollution) Act, 1974
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 enacted with the
objective of preventing and controlling water pollution, assessing pollution
levels and punishing polluters, maintaining or restoring the wholesomeness of
water and establishing Central and State Board to carry out the objective of the
Act. Sec 42 of the Water Act, 1974 states penalties and fines for certain acts
including pulling down pillars, obstructing any person acting under the orders
or directions of the board from exercising his function, damaging any work or
property belonging to the board, knowingly or willfully make a false statement
in giving any information or for the purpose of obtaining any consent, shall be
punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or with
fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both.
The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
The Forest (Conservation) Act,1980 was passed with the object to maintain
ecology and preserve the forest of our country and also to regenerate the forest
by planting trees and increase the forest by planting trees and increasing the
forest growth in our country. This Act has made the restrictions under Sec 2 on
the state government and other authorities to make decisions on some matters
without the prior permission of the Central Government. Sec 3A was added by the
amendment made in 1988. As per this Sec, whoever violates or abets the violation
of any law contained under Sec 2 shall be punished with simple imprisonment for
any prescribed term which may increase up to 15 days.
The Air (Prevention And Control Of Pollution) Act, 1981
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981, was a law passed by
the Parliament of India to prevent and control the harmful effects of air
pollution in India and to establish the Central and State Board and confer on
the board the power to implement the provision of the Act and assign to the
board functions relating to pollution. Chapter VI of the Act provides penalties
for non-compliance with the provision of the Act.
The Environment Protection Act, 1986
The Environmental Protection Act, of 1986 covers all forms of pollution in the
air, water, soil, and noise. It provides the safety standards for the presence
of various pollutants in the environment. It restricts the use of hazardous
material except if earlier authorization is taken from the Central Government.
Sec 15(1) provides a penalty for contravention of the provisions of the Act and
the rules, orders, and directions issued thereunder with imprisonment for a term
which may extend to five years or with a fine a term which may extend to five
years or with fine which may extend to one lakh.
Cigarette And Other Tobacco Act, 2003
Cigarette and other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 prohibits public smoking, and the
advertisement of tobacco products, among other things. Sec 24 of the Act
provides punishment for the sale of cigarettes or any other tobacco products in
certain places or to the person below the age of eighteen years shall be
punishable with a fine which may extend to two hundred rupees Sec 22 of the Act
provides punishment for advertisement sponsorship and promotion of tobacco
products: first conviction up to 2 years of imprisonment or up to 1000 rupees
fine or both and for subsequent conviction up to 5 years imprisonment and up to
5000 rupees fine.
National Green Tribunal
The NGT is a specific body that was framed under the NGT Act,2010 for the
powerful and speedy removal of cases that are connected with the security and
conservation of the environment, forests, and other natural resources, and to
give relief and compensation for any damages caused to person and properties and
to handle various environmental disputes that involve multi-disciplinary issues.
Sec 26 of the NGT Act,2010 provides a penalty for failure to comply with orders
of the Tribunal with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or
with a fine which may extend to ten crore rupees on the other hand with a fine
which might reach out to ten crore rupees or with both and in the case of
failure that the contravention proceeds, with extra fine which might stretch out
to 25 thousand rupees for each day during which such failure or contradiction
goes on after conviction for the main such failure or contravention.
Some remarkable principles and doctrines propounded by the Indian Judiciary
The doctrine of Absolute liability; Polluter Pays Principles; Precautionary
Principle, Public Trust Doctrine; Doctrine of sustainable development, etc for
the protection of the Environment. The judiciary attempts to fill in the
loopholes where there is a frill in the regulation.
It has been observed that there are too many legislation, principles and
doctrine attempts to deal with environmental issues. But as per the report of
NCRB which shows a hike in the crime rate against the environment means that
this legislation, principles & doctrine are not enough to protect the
environment against environmental crime.
Taking into account the impact of this
crime on the environment, we need to remember that on multiple occasions they
additionally affect individual abuse, defilement violations, money laundering,
killings (as on account of unlawful logging), and numerous other related.
Environmental crime is a serious hindrance to future development. What we really
want strong integrated system that would give an encompassing holistic unified
approach and powerful outcomes.
It is time for the environmental provisions to be amended to include
organised offences and raise the rigidity of the currently liberal penalties.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Ankita Singh
Authentication No: JL218981222915-8-0722