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Ranjitsinh vs. Union of India: Environmental Ruling



  Apr 20, 2024

Landmark Environmental Judgment: M.K. Ranjitsinh vs. Union of India



M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India

About the Judgment: M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India encompasses several landmark environmental cases filed by the environmental attorney M.C. Mehta. Notably, these cases led to significant judicial interventions related to air and water pollution, including the Ganga pollution case and the Taj Trapezium case.

Key Articles and Policies Invoked:

● Article 21 of the Constitution – Right to Life, interpreted to include the right to a clean and healthy environment.

● Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 – Established to protect and improve the environment.

● Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 – Aimed to control and prevent air pollution.

T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad vs. Union of India

About the Judgment: Initiated in 1995, this case broadly addressed the issue of deforestation and resulted in comprehensive orders regarding forest conservation and the use of forest lands. It expanded the definition of "forests" in the Forest Conservation Act, applying it to all forests irrespective of ownership.

Key Articles and Policies Invoked:

● Article 32 of the Constitution – Right to Constitutional Remedies, allowing for direct appeals to the Supreme Court in cases of rights violations.

● Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 – Regulates the de-reservation of forests and the use of forest land for non-forest purposes.

M.K. Ranjitsinh & Ors. vs. Union of India & Ors.2024

About the Judgment: This recent judgment recognized the fundamental right to be free from the adverse effects of climate change. The case was specifically focused on the conservation of the Great Indian Bustard and involved directives regarding the undergrounding of power lines to protect the bird species.

Key Articles and Policies Invoked:

● Article 14 of the Constitution – Right to Equality.

● Article 21 of the Constitution – Right to Life and Personal Liberty.

● Directive Principles of State Policy – Particularly those related to environmental protection and improving public health(Art.47 and 48A).

● Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and other environmental legislations.


Government Laws and Policies Cited in the Judgments:


The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972

Purpose: To provide protection to the wildlife (flora and fauna) and to establish a network of ecologically important protected areas. The Act provides for the protection of wild animals, birds, and plants with the aim of ensuring the ecological and environmental security of India.

The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

Purpose: To prevent and control water pollution and to maintain or restore the wholesomeness of water. This Act was India’s first major legislative measure to address environmental concerns and provides for the establishment of boards at the Central and State levels charged with enforcing its provisions.

The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981

Purpose: To prevent, control, and abate air pollution in India. It establishes mechanisms to regulate emissions from industrial plants, automobiles, and other potential sources. The Act authorizes the government to declare certain areas as pollution control areas.

The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986

Purpose: To provide for the protection and improvement of the environment and the prevention of hazards to human beings, other living creatures, plants, and property. This Act was enacted after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy and gives the Central Government the authority to take all measures necessary to protect the environment.

The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010

Purpose: To establish a specialized body, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), for the effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection, conservation of forests, and other natural resources including the enforcement of any legal right relating to the environment. The NGT is intended to provide relief and compensation for damages to persons and property.

● National Solar Mission – Part of India's national action plan on climate change, promoting the use of solar energy.

● National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency – Aims to enhance energy efficiency in various sectors.

● National Mission for a Green India – Focuses on afforestation and biodiversity conservation.

These judgments underscore the proactive role of the Indian judiciary in environmental conservation, emphasizing a broad interpretation of constitutional rights to include the right to a healthy environment as part of the right to life and equality. This approach has significantly shaped environmental governance and policy in India.


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