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
- Man have right to freedom, equality and life with dignity, and
- Have some responsibility to protect and improve environment and
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
- 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
- Concurrent List:
Forest, Factories, Electricity, Protection of Wild Animal and
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
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
Environmental problem is concern to constitutional priority of every citizen to
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.
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.
. 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
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]