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Environmental Law

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Fundamental aspects of Environment Law

  • Meaning and definition of Environment and Pollution
  • Kinds of pollution
  • Sources and consequences of pollution
  • Significance of Environmental Law
  • International Environmental Law
    • Development of International Environmental Law
    • Source and General principals of International Environmental Law
    • General rights and obligations of states
    • Common issues of compliance and implementation
    • Choice of instruments, permits and regulation
    • General Issues of the international law related to environmental protection
    • Particular issues like atmospheric pollution and climate change
    • The law of the sea and protection of the marine environment
    • Protection of species and biological diversity including marine living resources
    • International trade and environmental protection
    • Rights and obligations of states
    • Role of non-state actors, industry groups, the scientific community
    • Emerging legal doctrines of public international law
    • The role of international organizations, multi-lateral and regional institutions
    • Liability for environmental damage
    • Other emerging issues
  • Ancient Indian Philosophy relating to environment protection
  • Non-Governmental Organizations and their pressure groups play an important role in terms of suggesting and pressurizing Governments to make newer policies or replace old policies. They are also active in bringing judicial remedies by way of filing Writs and Public Interest Litigation cases.
  • June 5 is observed as the World Environment Day
  • National Green Tribunal

Territory law

  • Constitution provisions concerning environment Articles 14,15,(2) (b) 19 (e),21,31,32,38,39,42,47, 48-A,49,51,51-A: Constitutional provisions about states powers concerning acquisition, regulation and distribution of natural resources (water, forests, mines, oil) with special emphasis on Arts 14, 15, 19, 31A, 31B, 31C, 39 (b) & (c): Union lists ( Entries 6,52,56,57) State list (Entries 17,18,21,23) Concurrent List (Entries17,17-I,17B,18,20) of Ninth Schedule and land reforms abolition of intermediaries and land ceiling.

Primary Protective Laws

Secondary Laws noise pollution regulations

Australian Environment Law

Canadian Environment Acts

UK Environmental Acts

Other Environmental Acts

Common Law & Criminal Law Remedies for Environmental Problems

  • Nuisance, Negligence, strict liability and absolute liability, Provisions of IPC relating to environmental problems (public nuisance u/s 268 and others (Sections 269,270,277,284,285,286,425 to 440) Section 133 0f Cr.P.C.

Environmental Law under the Law of Torts

  • Industrialization has posed serious concern for the protection of environment.
  • Both judicial and legislative processes have applied the yardstick of ‘Strict or Absolute Liability’ to judge the conduct of the polluters.
  • A toxic tort is a special type of personal injury lawsuit in which the plaintiff claims that exposure to a chemical caused the plaintiff’s toxic injury or disease.
  • Strict liability for ultra-hazardous activities might also be considered a general principle of law as it is found in the national law of many states in relation to ultra-hazardous activities. Under the English law,’ a person who for his own purposes brings on his own land and collects and keeps there anything likely to do mischief if it escapes, must keep it in at his peril, and, if he does not do so, is prima facie answerable for all the damage which is the natural consequence of its escape’ as laid down by the landmark judgment of Ryland v. Fletcher
  • Absolute liability for the harm caused by industry engaged in hazardous and inherently dangerous activities is a newly formulated doctrine free from the exceptions to the strict liability rule in England. The Indian rule was evolved in MC Mehta v. Union of India, which was popularly known as the Oleum gas leak case. It was public interest litigation under Article 32 of the Indian constitution.
  • Under the Civil Procedure Code of 1908, civil suits against the perpetrators of public nuisance were allowed. By the amendment of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1976, the procedure was made easier for the general public to seek recourse in the civil courts
  • Section 91 of deals with Public Nuisances and other wrongful acts affecting the public.
  • Prior to the amendment in 1976 such suits were allowed only with the sanction of the Advocate General. Thus a modification was brought about to the standing requirement which had been an obstacle in civil actions against environmental degradation.
  • This is an important instance of early relaxation of procedural rules in the wider context of developing Indian public interest litigation.
  • Order 1 Rule 8 under the Civil Procedure Code of 1908, as amended in 1976 complements the above section and is significant for environmental litigation in India. This rule permits one person to sue or defend on behalf of all having the same interest in what are known as representative suits over a single cause of action.
  • Where the interest of the community at large is affected, the court has the power to direct one person or few to represent the whole community so that members of a class should have a common interest in a common subject matter and a common grievance and the relief sought should be beneficial to all. This rule is an enabling provision and does not prevent an individual from pursuing the same matter on his own right to seek relief.

Environmental Law under the Indian Penal Code, 1860

  • Chapter XIV of IPC containing Sections 268 to 290 deals with offenses affecting the public health, safety, convenience, decency and morals. Its object is to safeguard the public health, safety and convenience by causing those acts punishable which make environment polluted or threaten the life of the people.
  • Section 268 & 290 of IPC defines public nuisance and provides for punishment of fine up to Rs. 200 for public nuisance respectively. Under these provisions any act or omissions of a person which caused injury to another by polluting the environment can be controlled.

Public Nuisance: a person is guilty of public nuisance who does any act or is guilty of an illegal omission which causes any common injury, danger to the people in general who dwell or occupy the property in the vicinity or cause injury, danger , obstruction to persons who use any public right.

  • Section 269 & 270 of IPC provides, whoever negligently or malignantly does any act which spreads the infection of disease dangerous to life, can be controlled by punishing the person responsible for such act with imprisonment upto six months to six years or with fine or both respectively.
  • Section 277 provides, whoever voluntarily fouls the water of any public spring or reservoir, so as to render it less fit for the purpose for which it is ordinarily used, shall be punished with imprisonment for three months or with fine of five hundred rupees or with both.
  • Section 278 provides, whoever voluntarily vitiates the atmosphere in any place so as to make it noxious to the health of persons dwelling or carrying on business in the neighborhood or passing along the public way, shall be punished with fine up to Rs.500.
  • Section 284 provides, whoever does, with any poisonous substance, any act in a manner so rash or negligent as to endanger human life, or to be likely to cause hurt or injury to any person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of 6 months or with fine up to Rs.1000 or with both.
  • Section 285 provides, whoever does, with the fire or any combustible matter, any act rashly or negligently as to endanger human life, to be likely to cause or injury to any other person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of 6 months, or with fine up to Rs.10000 or with both.
  • Section 286 provides, whoever does, with any explosive substance, any act rashly or negligently as to endanger human life, to be likely to cause or injury to any other person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of 6 months, or with fine up to Rs.10000 or with both.
  • Under sections 426,430,432 of IPC general pollution caused by mischief can be controlled and the same is punishable.

Environmental Law under the Criminal Procedure Code

  • Ratlam Municipal Council case
    • The problem that presented itself before the Court was in one sense no different from a daily spectacle in the overpopulated townships of India: the absence of proper drainage systems creating nuisance of garbage accumulation on the streets.
    • The response of the Court was however fascinatingly different: it reached out to Section 133 of the Criminal Procedure Code that confers upon the Magistracy summary power to give directions for abatement of a public nuisance and elected the Judicial Magistrate to frame a scheme to provide a working drainage system of sufficient capacity to meet the needs of the people.
  • Lakshmi Cement case
    • It was held that Section 133 CrPC does not automatically or impliedly get repealed after the commencement of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. So proceedings under Section 133 CrPC are not barred.
  • To analyze the use of criminal sanctions for abatement of environmental nuisance it is essential to consider the various precedents in this regard. In Ajeet Mehta v. State of Rajasthan22 it was held that stocking of fodder on a certain plot in a residential colony constitutes pollution of atmosphere and hence public nuisance. The order directing removal of this nuisance was held valid and the respondents were directed not to do any business of fodder on that plot.
  • In another case there were fodder tali in a residential colony to which fodder was brought daily during the night by trucks which were unloaded in the morning. This caused intolerable noise, emanating offensive smell and spreading dust-containing particles of fodder cut. It was held as public nuisance23.
  • In Nagarjuna Paper Mills case13 it was observed by the A.P. High Court that the power relating to air and water pollution, the Water Act, 1974 has taken away the power of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate to pass an order to close a factory causing pollution24. The abovesaid view was also confirmed by the Supreme Court in Ratlam case3 where Their Lordships held that "when on disclosure of existence of a public nuisance from information and evidence, the Magistrate considers that such unlawful obstruction or nuisance should be removed from any public place which maybe lawfully used by the public, he is to order removal of such nuisance". (SCC p. 170, para 13)

International Law and Environmental Protection

  • Stockholm Conference 1972, Rio summit, 1992, UNEP, WSSD, 2002, Trail Smelter Arbitration

Environment and Development

  • Meaning and concept of development - Its impact on environment; conflict between environment and development
  • Concept of Sustainable Development
    • Sustainable Development
    • Principles of integration
    • Polluter pay principle
    • Precautionary principle
    • Interpenetrated equity
  • Public Trust Doctrine
  • Peoples movements (Chipko, Tehri, Silent valley and NBA) Land Acquisition for development projects – Social and legal problems.

Judicial Activism and Environment

  • Public interest litigation for environmental protection
  • Landmark Judgments
    • Bhopal case
    • Olium gas leakage case
    • Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra, Dehradun, (Dehradoo case, (1985) Supp SCC 487)
    • A.P Pollution Control Board v. Prof M.V. Nayudu ,(1999) 2 SCC 718)
    • Vellore Citizen Welfare Forum v. Union of India, (1996) 5SCC 647)
    • Ganga Pollution case (1988) I SCC)
    • Olga Tellis v. Bombay Muncipal Corporation ((1985) 3 SCC5 45)
    • S. Jagannath v. UOI (1997) SCC867) Samatha case
    • M.C.Mehta V. Kamalnath( (1997) I SCC 388)

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