ON December 16, 1983, the Supreme Court for the first time linked environment to an individual’s fundamental right to life. The apex court issued directions to stop air and water pollution after interpreting Article 21 of the Constitution which ensures healthy and decent life to people. The case was filed in 1982 by Bandhua Mukti Morcha, a non-profit working to end bonded labour, on the miserable condition of workers at a stone mine in Faridabad, near Delhi.
Ever since, the judiciary has played a key role in protecting people’s right to clean environment. However, this judicial environmental consciousness does not stem from the Constitution, which discusses the environment in its Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Rights, which are not justiciable. Rather, environmental jurisprudence has its roots in judiciary’s creative interpretation of Article 21 over the past three decades.
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March 01, 2020