By Anshika Juneja, Symbiosis Law College, Pune.
It is fascinating to note that natural resources have been put away virtually untouched in the Earth for a large number of years. Be that as it may, since the beginning of the industrial revolution, immeasurable measures of these resources had been exploited within a period of only two or three hundred of years at unimaginable rates, with all the waste from this abuse going straight in the environment and genuinely harming its natural procedures. Although pollution had been known to exist for a very long time, it had seen the development of really global proportions just since the onset of the industrial revolution amid the 19th century. Environmental degradation in India has been brought on by an assortment of social, economic, institutional and technological factors. Quickly developing populace, urbanization and industrial exercises have all brought about impressive disintegration in the quality and sustainability of the environment. Environmental ethics have also formed an inherent part of Indian religious precepts and philosophy.
The importance of Judiciary in a democratic setup for protection of life and personal rights can hardly be overestimated. The judiciary has a central role to play in this thriving democracy and disregards arbitrary executive and legislative action. In considering the role of the judiciary in environmental governance, there are two issues that should be considered. The primary is the role of the judiciary in the interpretation of environmental law and in law making and the second is the capability of jurists to successfully interpret the increasingly cross-linked issues conveyed to their attention. For the judiciary, probably the weight of implementation is greater, as they must not just interpret laws that incorporate sustainable development inter-and intra-generational value; importance of traditional values and ideas; interpretation of constitutional rights including the right to life and the right to a healthy environment, etc., but also have to weigh these against economic and political principles.
In India, with a view to protecting and improving the environment, different Environment Protection Legislations have been made and different regulations, rules have been issued. The Government of India, through its Ministry of Environment and Forests has enacted nationwide comprehensive laws. In the wake of the Bhopal gas tragedy, the Government of India enacted the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. It is in the form of an umbrella legislation designed to provide a framework for Central Government to coordinate the activities of various central and state authorities established under previous laws. Apart from this, several notifications and rules have also been made, on other environmental issues.
The Judiciary, in India, has been taking strides for directing state agencies, to entirely hold fast to the legislations in protecting the environment and totally arresting the different synthetic calamities. The Judiciary has made such strides particularly, on account of the different public interest litigations emerged out of artificial fiascos, for example, Bhopal Gas tragedy and so forth. It was held in MC Mehta v. Union of India and others, that one of the principles underlying environmental law is sustainable development. This principle obliges development to happen in an ecologically sustainable way. It was further held that there are two essential features of sustainable development, for example, preparatory principle and polluter pays principle. It appears that absence of adequate stores allocation to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, absence of adequate number of qualified and trained staff, for example, academicians, legitimate professionals, medicinal specialists and technologists in the Ministry and its subordinate offices everywhere throughout the nation, absence of responsibility of the general population and mindfulness about the environment assurance and change, confused methods for approvals and authorizations of the Pollution Control Boards, are the main explanations behind ineffective usage of environments laws. In the event that appropriate reforms are made, most likely the environmental laws will be executed viably thereby ensuring problem free environment.
The right to live in a clean and healthy environment is not a recent invention of the higher judiciary in India. The right has been perceived by the lawful framework for over a century or something like that. The only difference in the enjoyment of the right to live in a clean and healthy environment today is that it has attained the status of a fundamental right and the Constitution of India will not permit the violation of this right. From the late eighties , different High Courts and the Supreme Court of India have assigned this perfectly fine key right. Prior to this period, as pointed out earlier, people had enjoyed this right not as a constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right but as a right recognized and enforced by the Courts under different laws like Law of Torts, Indian Penal Code, Civil Procedure Code, Criminal Procedure Code etc. In today’s emerging jurisprudence, environmental rights which encompass a group of collective rights, are depicted as third era rights. There has been an adjustment in the legal understanding of Article 21 after the instance of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India and Anr. The words’ comprehension “life” and ‘individual freedom’ is a great deal more than the negligible strict ramifications. It reaches out to incorporate enhancing the value of life and making it more secure in entirety. Along these lines, numerous mandate standards have been secured under the ambit of Article 21 making it enforceable in the court of law. Among the viewpoints that have gone under the widened standpoint of Article 21, the security and change of the biology and environment is the crucial one. Without precedent for the instance of Subash Kumar v. Condition of Bihar, the court pronounced that the right to life under Art 21 includes the privilege to clean water and air. In Virender Gaur v. Condition of Haryana, the Apex Court adjusted that for each subject, there exists an established constitutional right to healthy environment and further presented an obligatory obligation on the state to secure and protect this human right. Another point of interest and progressive judgment is Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action v. Union of India, a case concerned genuine harm by specific commercial ventures delivering poisonous chemicals to the earth of Bichhri District in Rajasthan. Bearings for the business’ conclusion were given and the choice in the Oleum Gas Leak case with respect to outright obligation for contamination by risky commercial ventures was reaffirmed.
The extent of judicial activity in the Taj Trapezium case is matchless. The Court supervised the installation of pollution control equipment and devices, closed violators, directed Gas Authority of India Limited to pipe gas to the industries, urged development of a green belt around the monument, relocated industries, carved out a labour compensation and entitlement scheme, expedited the construction of a highway to divert traffic away from Agra (place of the monument), asked the government to speed up work on barrages that would revive the flow in Yamuna and generally monitored development activity in the Trapezium. Here, apart from the judicial pronouncement, the Court has stepped out to execute and supervise the resultant actions too. As regards the vehicular pollution in Delhi, on a petition filed by M.C. Mehta the Central Government was compelled to constitute an authority called Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for the National Capital Region (EPPCA).
The suggestions made by the Supreme Court in A.P. Pollution Control Board v. M.V. Nayudu, for the improvement of the adjudicatory machinery under the various environmental laws should be implemented by the Government. The main burden of these suggestions is that in all environmental courts, tribunals and appellate authorities, there should be a judge of the rank of a High Court or a Supreme Court, sitting or retired, and a scientist or a group of scientists of high ranking and experience so as to help a proper and fair adjudication of disputes relating to environment and protection. If it is implemented, this would go a long way in securing justice to the needy. Any law is as good as the implementation. The implementation mechanism must be foolproof and effective. There must be an effective monitoring mechanism. The bottom line is that we must have individuals of integrity with a strong value base and deep commitment if laws are to be effectively implemented.