Man became more materialistic as civilization progressed. His primary purpose
in life was to amass increasing amounts of material wealth. This sparked
scientific innovation and new technology, paving the door for natural resource
exploitation. The deterioration of the environment became a possible threat
because of rapid and unregulated industrialization. Large-scale pollution and
damage to the earth's ecology occurred as a result of the Second World War and
the industrial disaster. People began to realize that if this persisted, man's
very life would be risked.
Environmental contamination has long been a problem in India. As a result,
Articles 47, 48, and 48A were already included in the Constitution by the
framers. The state is entrusted with a set of responsibilities under these
articles to protect the environment and conserve the country's natural
The Parliament added Article 51(1)(g) into the constitution since India was a
signatory to the Stockholm Declaration of 1972. Individuals have a
responsibility to maintain and improve the natural environment, including
forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, as well as to have compassion for living
creatures, according to this article.
Apart from that, the Parliament passed numerous anti-pollution laws, such as the
Environmental (Protection) Act 1986, The Water (Prevention and Control of
Pollution) Act 1974, The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution Act 1981, The
Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Act 1972, The Biological Diversity
Act 2002, etc. to protect the Environment.
The Supreme Court of India is a well-respected institution; in general, the
public views the Supreme Court of India favorably compared to the state's
legislative and executive branches. 2 The Supreme Court has successfully dealt
with a complex, multifaceted, and rapidly increasing and changing field of
technology and multi-disciplines.
Judicial activism has resulted in numerous developments and has provided the
valuable raw material for the development of a comprehensive Indian
environmental law. Thus, in the sphere of environmental justice administration,
the Supreme Court of India has stood tallest not only before the legislature and
executive but also before its counterparts in developed and developing
countries, whether old or young.
The Indian Constitution ensures that the judiciary is free from the influence of
the legislature and the executive branch of government, making it less
vulnerable to pressure from both organs of government.
The remaining part of the paper is split into five sections. The following part
delves into the existing literature on Sustainable Development. Part 3: the
Indian judiciary's crucial role in interpreting laws to suit the sustainable
development doctrine, followed by a court verdict pertaining to Environment
protection in Part 4. The conclusion and Suggestions are presented in the final
Meaning of Environment
The word "environment" relates to surroundings. It includes virtually
everything. It can be can defined as anything which may be treated as covering
the physical surroundings that are common to all of us, including air, space,
land, water, plants and wildlife
Need for environmental laws
Today we are living in nuclear arena. No one can overlook the harm caused to the
environment by the nuclear bombs, dropped by airplanes belonging to the United
States on the Japanese urban communities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki amid the last
phases of World War II in 1945. Day to day innovation and advancement of
technology, apart from development additionally expands the risk to human life.
Accordingly, there arises an intense and an acute need of the law to keep pace
with the need of the society along with individuals. So now the question of 3
environmental protection is a matter of worldwide concern, it is not confined to
any country or territory.
The Supreme Court of India Adopted the Sustainable Development Principles:
The Supreme Court of India has embraced the principles of sustainable
development, recognising the importance of achieving a balance between the
environment, society and economics. This concept, although not new, has gained
significance in the twenty-first century with the emergence of global industrial
and information societies. Sustainable development aims to meet the needs of the
present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own
needs, as stated in the Brundtland Report.
The Supreme Court acknowledges that the United Nations Conference on Human
Environment and the Stockholm Conference in 1972 played a significant role in
raising environmental consciousness and establishing the idea of sustainable
development as part of Customary International Law. It has outlined several
principles of sustainable development, which involve pursuing sustained economic
and social progress while preserving the environment and natural resources
necessary for continued development.
The principle of inter-generational equity emphasises that development should
meet the current generation's needs without depleting nonrenewable resources and
depriving future generations of their benefits. The Supreme Court, in the case
of Bombay Dyeing & Mfg. Co. Ltd. vs. Bombay Environmental Action Group,
supported this approach, ensuring that present generations do not exploit
resources to the detriment of future generations.
The Precautionary Principle states that states should adopt a precautionary
approach to environmental conservation, even in the absence of full scientific
certainty, to prevent irreversible damage. The Indian Supreme Court has embraced
this principle, incorporating it into the burden of proof in environmental
matters. Those seeking to change the status quo bear the burden of proof in
demonstrating the absence of detrimental effects of proposed actions.
Additionally, the court supports the principle that polluters should bear the
costs of pollution, taking into account the public interest and without
distorting international trade and investment. This principle promotes the
internationalisation of environmental costs and the use of economic instruments
to hold polluters accountable not only for compensating victims but also for
rehabilitating the ecosystem.
The Supreme Court of India's recognition and application of these principles
demonstrates its commitment to sustainable development and environmental
protection. By incorporating these principles into its decisions, the court
encourages responsible behaviour, accountability and a balance between economic
development and environmental preservation.
The Indian judiciary's crucial role in interpreting laws to suit the sustainable
development doctrine The Indian Supreme Court and High Courts have played a
significant role in upholding the Sustainable Development Doctrine. Various laws
have been enacted in India to avoid environmental deterioration. In this case,
the higher court has played a critical role in interpreting those statutes in
accordance with the Sustainable Development Doctrine.
The Indian judiciary has played a vital role in promoting sustainable
development and fostering public and private industry while minimising the risk
of irreversible damage to the natural environment, which is necessary to
maintain the planet's and India's healthy flora and fauna. It should be
mentioned that all lawsuits involving environmental issues have been brought
before the court through Public Interest Litigation (PIL) under Article 32 or
Article 226 of the Indian Constitution.
The Supreme Court of India has made a tremendous contribution to environmental
and ecological protection, as well as the protection of forest wildlife, among
other things. Despite 5 the court's limited jurisdiction, it has played an
important role in this regard. True, we have enough environmental regulations,
but their execution is in the hands of administrative authorities, and in this
regard, excellent governance devoid of corruption is the most important
requirement for environmental protection.
Court verdicts pertaining to the environmental protection:
This should be noted that the Indian judiciary has taken a leading role in
environmental protection and sustainable development in India. The judiciary's
commitment to social good in general, and environmental protection in
particular, has resulted in the innovative use of "public interest litigation"
under Articles 32 and 226 of the Indian Constitution as a tool for social and
The right to a healthy environment has been incorporated directly and indirectly
into Indian top court judgments, with the first link between environmental
quality and the right to life being established in the case of Charan Lal
Sahu Etc. vs. Union of India and Others
, also known as the Bhopal Case.
In Subhash Kumar vs. the State of Bihar
, the Supreme Court of India
construed Article 21 of the Indian Constitution to hold that the right to life
includes the right to a healthy environment, which includes the right to
pollution-free water and air for full enjoyment of life. The Supreme Court has
recognized the right to a healthy environment as a basic right in this judgment.
The Supreme Court introduced the new concept of "absolute liability" for
disasters arising from the storage or use of hazardous materials from their
factories in M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India & others
, also known as the
Oleum Gas Leak case. The enterprise must ensure that no harm has been caused
whether negligence occurred or not.
The Supreme Court of India held in Vellore Citizen Welfare Forum vs. Union of
while businesses are important for a country's development, the
doctrine of sustainable 6 development must be adopted by them as a balancing
concept, and the 'precautionary principle' and the 'polluter pays principle'
must also be accepted as part of the law.
The Supreme Court stated in M. C. Mehta vs. Kamal Nath
disruption of the basic environment elements, namely air, water, and soul, which
are necessary for existence, would be hazardous to life." As a result, a court
exercising jurisdiction under Article 32 can award not only damages but also
fines for environmental degradation.
The Gujarat High Court stated in Abhilash Textiles vs. Rajkot Municipal Corpn
that "the petitioners cannot be allowed to harvest profit at the expense of the
The Constitutional aspects on Environmental Law In the Indian Constitution it
was the first time when responsibility of protection of the environment imposed
upon the states through Constitution (Forty Second Amendment) Act, 1976.
Article 48A states that, the State shall endeavour to protect and improve the
environment and to safeguard the forest and wildlife of the country." The
Amendment also inserted Part VI-A (Fundamental duty) in the Constitution, which
reads as follows:
Article 51A(g) "It shall be duty of every citizen of India to protect and
improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, and wildlife and to
have compassion for living creature."
In Sachidanand Pandey v. State of West Bengal
14, the Supreme Court
observed "whenever a problem of ecology is brought before the court, the court
is bound to bear in mind Article 48A and Article 51A(g).
The environment and development are two sides of the same coin, and none can be
sacrificed for the sake of the other. Both, on the other hand, are equally
important for our better future. In this situation, it is up to the Supreme
Court and the High Courts to handle these matters with extreme caution; only
then will we be able to fulfill our goal of ensuring a pollution-free developed
country for our next generation.
Another issue that needs to be addressed is the location of the industry. In
this regard, it is recommended that, when an industry is hazardous, it is not to
be in a location where many people live or near a colony, considering the
happiness and health of the inhabitant. It pertains to the provisions of
Directives Principles of State Policy Articles 48A and 51A (g).
We always kept in mind Resource management, which is another major issue that
focuses on the idea of "sustainable development," which emphasizes that the
right to development should not have an adverse impact on the potentiality of
Public Interest Litigation (PIL) under Articles 32 and 226 of the Indian
Constitution has also played an essential part in protecting the environment, as
most of the Supreme Court's environmental cases are the outcome of this Public
The World Commission on Environment and Development observes, "What is required
is a new approach in which all nations aim at a type of development that
integrates production with resource conservation and enhancement, and that links
both to the provision for all of an adequate livelihood base and equitable
access to resources."
These industries or businesses/trades are sometimes found to be carried on in a
way that endangers vegetation cover, animals, aquatic life, and human health,
but we now know that any trade or business that is harmful to flora and fauna or
human beings cannot be carried on in the name of the fundamental right. In this
light, we can only hope that the judiciary would 8 play an essential role in
protecting the environment and assisting India's industrial development by
adopting a sustainable development policy.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Neetu Choudhary
Authentication No: DE335217013399-18-1223