Right to environment calls for justice!!

Human beings across the globe have gradually developed sensitivity towards the concept of sustainable development and have started using the natural resources cautiously. We, in some or the other form, have made efforts to save each and every component which constitutes a healthy environment, be it flora or fauna.

In India, we have a number of laws that are legislated to protect and develop the environment for the benefit of the people who are a part of this country. Some of them are as under: –

  1. [The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 ;
  2. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977;
  3. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
  4. The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
  5. The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.][1]

The government has also taken several steps as and when necessary through various campaigns like Rally for Rivers, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Odd and Even scheme in Delhi, shifting of Mathura Refineries away from Taj Mahal, providing carbon credits to the industries etc. to decrease pollution and save the environment from deteriorating further.

Hon’ble Apex Court in Subhash Kumar vs. State. of Bihar, held that right to life is a fundamental right under Art. 21 of the Constitution and it includes the right to enjoyment of pollution-free water and air for full enjoyment of life. If anything endangers or impairs that quality of life in derogation of laws, a citizen has recourse to Art.32 of the Constitution for removing the pollution of water or air which may be detrimental to life.[2] In the case of Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of Indian[3], the principle of pollutants pay was also given.

Main Issue: – The main issue is that Judiciary, as one of the pillars of the Government, is making efforts to recognize environment and its importance in every possible manner but is it really doing so on all fronts?

Real life example: –

  1. Many times, we get emails and at the bottom, a line is mentioned as ‘Think of the Environment before printing this mail’
  2. At ATM machines they provide the facility of showing the balance on the screen, instead of printing the same.

How this is related to law and Judiciary in particular?

In Indian Courts, all the documents are submitted in hard copy and the copy of the same is to be served to the opposite party. So, every document has three copies to be made and there is no end to the number of pages used. Also, there are huge numbers of cases that are heard in courts across the country. Also, the paper is used for various other purposes, where its use can now be reduced thanks to the extensive presence of modern technology.

What steps can be taken?

  1. The government has taken some steps but work should also be done in the direction that documents used in the printing copies may be used as less as possible and it should be made available online with proper set of security measures so that number of copies used of same document is decreased.
  2. Also, for the people who do not have access to technology, they should be provided with adequate knowledge and access to technology.

Conclusion:-

These steps mentioned above might seem not achievable to you initially but if worked towards with planning, clubbing it with various other campaigns, ensuring active participation of citizen, they can be implemented successfully. And most importantly, it is to be done before it’s too late!

[1] http://www.environmentallawsofindia.com/the-environment-definitions-and-acts.html

[2] (1991) 1 SCC 598

[3] AIR 1996 SC 2715


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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MANSI CHHAYA

Mansi is a law student from Unitedworld School of Law. She has always believed that life is about challenging oneself and living outside one’s comfort zone. Be it music or national level examinations, her focus has always been on trying to develop herself holistically. A consistent high performer and student of the year, she wishes to use her knowledge to ensure justice for people who deserve it.

 

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