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Environment law And Constitution of India

The preamble of Indian Constitution provide us a Socialist Society and which provides environment Protection .And it is the Fundamental duties to all the citizen of India to protect Environment .And the directive Principles in our Constitution safeguards the right of welfare state. Healthy environment is one of the basic principles of welfare state. The Constitution of India contains specific provisions for environmental protection.

A rapid increase of global warming deforestation, air water and other forms of pollution is posing a great threat to the environment and its living beings .The degradation of the environment through a abundance of activities carried on by individuals is deleterious to the health of all the living beings, including human beings, plants and animals.
To live in an environment which provides a pollution free atmosphere isn't only a basic right but also enhances human dignity.

Since the word Environment did not find its existence in the Indian Constitution, it became essential to insert provisions in the constitution as it is the supreme law of the land and such insertion thus, would convince be fruitful to guard the environment from exploitation. And our Constitution of India also furnishes various provisions for the protection of the Environment. But to preserve and protect the environment it's also very necessary to bring greater public participation, environment awareness and education.

Historical Background
When the COI was enacted, there was no specific provision, acts or articles that deals with the protection of Environmental Law. Only in the preamble of the Constitution of the India it's mentioned that India may be a socialist Country. So, the state pays more attention to social problem in comparison to individual. As because of Industrial revolution taken place in India. Environment pollution taken as major problem which was considered as a social problem so the duty came on state by the preamble to provide a proper slandered of living in a pollution free environment.

Development of environment protection in India can be divided into 2 parts that is pre 1972 and post 1972. In the Pre 1972era, there were no specific environmental policies and the planning commission did not attempt to develop any policies to protect Indian Environment .and did not include the right to a pollution free environment. More over the situation is changed after the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment at Stockholm 1972 in which the declaration on the Human environment was conceived. That was the beginning of an environmental movement in India.

United Nations Conference On Stockholm Conference On 1972:

This was the first United Nation convention on environmental issues .It is the foundation of environmental law around the world and India also. 25 principals were elucidated concerning the environment. The most notable principles are:
  • It recognised human rights as a neighbourhood of environmental protection and thus the proper to quality environment may be a fundamental right of a person's
  • States have the duty to protect and restore the environment and to develop such laws which protect the environment.
  • Man has the fundamental duty to protect the forest, wildlife and its inhabitant.
  • Non-renewable resources must be used in a restricted manner as to guard these resources from exhaustion in the future.

Within quintuple years of Stockholm Declaration, Constitution of India was amended to incorporate protection and improvement of Environment as constitutional mandate. And the Constitution was amended by 42nd amendment in 1976 and by these amendment Directive principals of State policy has been introduced U/A 48A. The protection and enrichment of environment is now a fundamental duty as per Article 51A, under Constitution Act of 1976, Govt. of India has found out a National Committee on Environmental Planning and coordination. By this committee several programs like cleaning of rivers including Ganga and Yamuna .And finally in 1986 government enacted the Environment Protection Act.

Constitutional Provisions & Impact Of Indian Judiciary In Environment:

As we described earlier The Indian Constitution contains specific provisions for environment protection under the chapter of Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Duties.


It comes under the directive principles of State Policy. It Says that the State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. the article imposed duty on state to guard the environment from pollution by adopting various measures.

In Sher Singh vs State of H.P, 2014

The general people of the country have a fundamental right to a sustaining, virtuous and clean-living environment. The Constitution of India, in terms of Article 48A mandates that the state is under a constitutional obligation to safeguard and develop the environment and to safeguard the forest, jungle and wild life in the country .By 42nd Amendment to the Constitution, the Parliament, with an object of sensitizing the citizens of their duty, incorporated Article 51A in the Constitution.

Not only this, there is still a pronounced responsibility upon the Central Govt. and the Concerned State Govt. in terms of Article 48A of the Constitution where it's required to preserve and enrich the environment. It is true that Part III of the Indian Constitution relating to Fundamental right does not specifically devote any Articles relating to Environment protection but development of law and pronouncement of judgement by the Apex Court take a crucial role to protect the right of clean and pollution free environment. In Article 51A(g) it states that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have benevolence for living creature.

This article is similar to Article 48A, only difference is it is the fundamental duty of citizens whereas Article 48A is the duty of the state to protect environment. This Article Also says that we get a pollution free environment, so it is our duty to protect it and improve its quality.

A.I.IM.S Students Union vs A.I.I.MS,2001

Held that the duty of inhabitant of the state under Article 51-A does not exclude the duty of the states.
In Sachidananda Pandey vs State of West Bengal & others, 1987 , it is held that whenever a problem of ecology is brought before the court,Art-48-A and 51-A(g) has to be considered .The role of the judiciary was also discussed. It was emphasized by the Supreme Court that the duties under Article 51-A , even though being a directive principles shall not be ignored by the Court.

In the State of West Bengal Vs Sujit Kumar Rana, 2004 powers under section 52 of The Indian Forest Act were challenged. The Court held that Article 48 and 51-A were read together and these provisions have to be kept in mind while interpreting Statutory Provisions of the Indian Forest Act 1927.

In M.C Mehta Vs Union Of India 1987 SCR (1) 819,AIR 1987 965 the Court held that any enterprise that is engaged in an inherently dangerous activity is 'absolutely liable' to compensate all those affected by an accident . The main feature of the judgement was the principle of 'absolute liability', in which no exception (such as an act of god. And the enterprises that caused damage to the environment had to pay compensation .
Article-21:- This Article Provides for the right of life and personal liberty. It states that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law

In Kendra vs State of U.P, the supreme Court of India has held that pollution caused by quarries adversely affects the health and safety of people and hence, the same should be stopped as being Violating of Article 21.In this case the Apex Court for the First time held that the right of environment is a right of life and Personal Liberty which is safeguarded by Article 21 of the Constitution.

In Subhash Kumar vs State of Bihar, Supreme Court held that the right to get pollution free water and Air is a Fundamental Right under Article 21. This laid down the foundation of Environmental Litigation of India.
Article 19(1)(g)- it States that it is the fundamental right of Citizens to practice any profession or carry any occupation, trade, business in any part of the country with Some reasonable restrictions .Supreme Court provide upper hand to environment Protection in comparison to freedom of trade . No one can practice such trade activities which is hazardous to public health.

In Khoday Distilleries Ltd vs State of Karnataka on 19th Ouctober,1994:
The Apex Court clearly states that certain profession, occupation, trades or business which are not in the interest of general public may be completely prohibited while other may be permitted with reasonable restrictions on them.

Article 253 � This Article give power to parliament to create Law for the country or any part of the territory for implementing any treaty, agreement and Conventions with other counties .By this Article Parliament enacted various laws for the protection of Environment like Water Act-1974,Air Act-1981, the Environmental Protection Act-1984.

Article 32 &226:

According to these articles every citizen of India has a right to approach before the Supreme Court or High Court through a PIL(Public Interest Litigation) ,whenever there is a violation of fundamental right .Some notable cases like M.C Mehta vs Union Of India, Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra vs the State of U.P in which Apex Court passed a direction to the Govt. to protect & preserve the environment ,maintain ecological balance. He also said as per Article 51A(g) it is not only the duty of the Govt. to protect the environment but also it is the responsibility of the citizen to do so.

Projects/Schemes taken by Government of India to protect Environment:

These are few projects or Schemes introduced by Govt. Of India in recent days to protect Environment.
  1. Namami Ganga Program:

    In June 2014 with a budget outlay of Rs-20,000/- Crore , Govt. of India accomplish the Twin Projects of abetment of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga. There are four pillars of this project:
    1. Swerage treatment infrastructure
    2. River Surface cleaning
    3. Afforestation and Lastly
    4. Industrial Effluent Monitoring.
  2. Green Skill Development Programme:

    It's an ingenuity of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEF &CC) for Sill development in the environment and forest sector to enable India's youth to get specialize and self-employment
  3. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan:

    On 2nd October 2019 Govt. of India was launched Swachh Bharat Mission throughout the India. It is the most significant cleanness campaign by the Govt. of India. Govt. has urged to the people from different section of the Society to have come forward and joined this mass movement of cleanness.

From the above discussion it is very pertinent to said that Indian Constitution, Indian Judiciary and Govt. Of India are so much aggrieved to protect the Environment and to maintain its cleanness. The Indian judiciary have not only created public awareness regarding Environmental problems but also take pecuniary measures against the lethargic attitude of Executives relating cases involving Environment.

Beside theses approaches of the above mentioned machineries there is no strict implementation of law regarding environment protection and most of the peoples of India are not educated to protect their environment. For these reason India is facing several Environmental disaster in recent days .So there is an urgency need to protect the environment otherwise we the people of India will destroy our self by our own hand.

  • Prof. M.P Jain , Indian Constitutional Law, 6th Ed, Lexis Nexis Butterworths Wadhwa, Nagpur,2010.
  • Environental Law By Dr. H.N Tiwari, Allahabad Law Agency, New Edition 2019

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Suman Saha, Advocate & Mediator

Awarded certificate of Excellence
Authentication No: SP127310088889-30-0921

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