Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of India
- This is a leading case in which the Supreme Court critically analyzed the relationship between environment and development.
- The petitioner- Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum, filed a Public Interest Litigation U/A 32 of Indian Constitution against the large-scale pollution caused to River Palar due to the discharge of untreated effluents by the tanneries and other industries in the State of Tamil Nadu. The water of River Palar is the main source of drinking and bathing water for the surrounding people.
- Further, the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University Research Centre, Vellore found that nearly 35,000 hectares of agricultural land has become either totally or partially unfit for cultivation.
- The question which arose for consideration before the Supreme Court was whether the tanneries should be allowed to continue to operate at the cost of lives of lakhs of people.
- The Supreme Court examining the report delivered its judgment making all efforts to maintain a harmony between environment and development.
- The Court admitted that these Tanneries in India are the major foreign exchange earner and also provides employment to several thousands of people. But at the same time, it destroys the environment and poses a health hazard to everyone.
- The court delivering its judgment in favor of petitioners directed all the Tanneries to deposit a sum of Rs. 10,000 as fine in the office of Collector as fine
- The Court further directed the State of Tamil Nadu to award Mr. M. C. Mehta with a sum of Rs. 50,000 as appreciation towards his efforts for protection of Environment.
- The Court in this case also emphasized on the constitution of Green Benches in India dealing specifically with matters relating to environment protection and also for speedy and expeditious disposal of environmental cases.
M. C. Mehta v. Union of India  (Ganga River Pollution Case)
- On a PIL filed by the Mr. M. C. Mehta U/A 32 of Indian Constitution, it was observed by the Supreme Court that water of River Ganga was highly toxic near Kanpur city- as the Tanneries in the area were discharging their untreated effluents into the River.Also, nine nallahs were discharging sewage effluents and sludge into the river. Similarly, dead bodies and half-burnt bodies were also been thrown into the river. Also, the water supply and sanitary conditions in the entire city was inadequate and not up to the marks of a normal city.
- The petitioner demanded the issuance of a writ/order/direction to restrain the State of U.P from letting out trade effluents into River Ganga.
- It was contended by the respondents that the Tanneries from the Kanpur city- due to their lack of physical facilities and technical know-how and funds- it was not possible for them to install the proper treatment facilities.
- The Court rejecting their contentions said that “the financial capacity of a tannery should be considered irrelevant while requiring them to establish primary trea6tment plants… Just like an industry which cannot pay minimum wages to its workers cannot be allowed to exist, the tannerieswhich cannot set up a primary treatment plant cannot be permitted to continue.”
- Further, the court observed that the contents of iron and manganese were higher from the ISI limits of river water which was found to be very harmful for consumption.
- The court ordered the Tanneries which did not appeared before the court should stop functioning and before they restart , they must install pre-treatment machineries for trade effluents.
- Therefore, the court held the Kanpur Mahanagarpalika liable and also passed several direction for the PCA (Prevention, Control and Abatement) of pollution of River Ganga, some of which were:
- Increase of size of sewers in labor colonies;
- Construction of several numbers of latrines and urinals;
- Preventing the throwing the dead bodies and half-burnt bodies or ashes after Funeral ceremonies into the river;
- Installing treatment plants in tanneries and other factories;
- Observe the ‘Keep the village clean week’
- Addition of slides relating to importance and purity of water in the theatre at the time of intervals.
Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board v. M. V. Nayadu
- The respondents applied for the consent for establishment of the industry to the Commissioner of industries. The issuance of license was subjected to various conditions which include3d a condition to obtain a certificate from the SPCB for pollution control and equipment proposed to be installed met their requirements.
- The application was rejected by A. P. PCB as the industry was a polluting unit and fell under “Red Category” and the proposed site was within the radius of 102kms of the two lakes- Himayat Sgar Lake and Osman Sagar Lake- which were the primary source of drinking water for the cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
- The Corporation again, after a year applied for the permission and clearance but the APPCB rejected the application again on the same grounds.
- Aggrieved the respondents moved before the Appellate Authority. The Appellate Authority issued directions to APPCB to grant its consent fir establishment of industry.
- But before this order was passed by the Tribunal, the Respondents had already filed a PIL before the High Court of Andhra Pradesh stating the order of APPCB to be arbitrary. The High Court allowing the PIL also directed the APPCB to grant its consent for the same.
- Aggrieved, the APPCB went in appeal u/A 136 to Supreme Court against the orders of High Court. The Supreme Court made various observations and allowed the appeal agreeing to the decisions of the APPCB for not granting the consent.
- The court observed that “In the environmental field, where the uncertainty of scientific opinions have created serious problems for the courts- Uncertainty becomes a problem when scientific knowledge is institutionalized in policy-making by agencies and courts.” The judges realized that Precautionary Principle and Polluter Pays Principle are now part of environmental jurisprudence of the country.
- The court also referred to cases of Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum and Shri Ram Food and Fertilizers Gas Leakage case.
S Jagannath v. Union of India 
- The petitioner through the present PIL has sought the enforcement of CRZ Notification, 1991 for prohibiting the intensive and semi-intensive type of prawn farming in the ecologically fragile coastal areas and constitution of a National Coastal Management Authority for safeguarding the marine life and coastal areas.
- Due to the commercial aquaculture farming there is a considerable degradation of the mangrove ecosystems, pollution of potable waters, and reduction in fish catch. The groundwater has become contaminated sue to seepage of impounded water from the aquaculture farms. Further. The court observed that most of the coastal land recently converted into shrimp farms was previously used for food crops and traditional fishing.
- Further, the expansion of the modern Shrimp ponds in the coastal area has meant that the local fishermen could reach the beach only after trespassing these Shrimp farms or by taking a long detour.
- The court observed that sea coasts and beached are the gift on nature to the mankind. The aesthetic qualities and the recreational utility of the said area have to be maintained. Any activity which has the effect of degrading the environment cannot be permitted.
- The effluents discharged by the commercial shrimp culture farms are covered by the definition of environmental pollutant, environmental pollution and hazardous substance. The NEERI Report indicates that these effluents are in excess of the prescribed standards. Further, no action is being taken by the authority Under the EPA, 1986 or the Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling Rules), 1989 or the Water Act, 1974 or the Fisheries Act, 1897or the WPA, 1972 etc.
- The court ordered the following:
- No part of the agricultural land and the salt farms could be converted into Aquaculture farms;
- An authority shall be constituted under the Central Government under Sec 8(3) of the EPA, 1986;
- The authority so constituted shall implement the Precautionary Principle and the Polluter Pays Principle.
- No shrimp culture ponds can be constructed in the coastal areas;
- Aquaculture industries functioning at present within 1km radius of the Chilika Lake must compensate the affected persons;
- Aquaculture functioning outside the CRZ should obtain prior permission and clearance from the authority within the prescribed time limit failing which they must stop their operations.
Goa Foundation v. Konkan Railways Corporation
- It was a longstanding demand of the people in the region for a cheap and fast transport to improve the economic conditions and to make accessible the hinterlands in the State of Maharashtra, State of Goa and State of Karnataka. The Central Government was considering providing a railway line for a considerable length of time but the project was postponed from time to time due to lack of requisite funds. Ultimately the Central Government took a decision to provide the line and to achieve that purpose. The Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd., a public limited Company, was set up.
- The petitioner claims to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, river and wild life and to have compassion for living creatures. The petitioners approached this Court by filing the present petition under Art 226 of the Constitution with the prayer that the Corporation should be compelled to procure environment clearance for the alignment passing through the State of Goa from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, and until such clearance is secured all the work in respect of providing railway line should be withheld.
- The grievance of the petitioners is that the proposed alignment has been planned and undertaken without an adequate Environment Impact Assessment (E.I.A.).
- The petitioners claimed that the proposed alignment is wholly destructive of the environment and the eco-system and violates the citizens” rights under Art. 21 of the Constitution. The petitioners also claim that even though the ecological damage will not be felt immediately, such damage will be gradual and will lead to the deterioration of the land quality and will affect large number of people.
- The court observed that: “The Courts are bound to take into consideration the comparative hardship which the people in the region will suffer by stalling the project of great public utility. No development is possible without some adverse effect on the ecology and environment but the projects of public utility cannot be abandoned and it is necessary to adjust the interest of the people as well as the necessity to maintain the environment. The balance has to be struck between the two interests and this exercise must be left to the persons who are familiar and specialized in the field.”
- Accordingly, the petition was dismissed.
Narula Dyeing and Printing Works v. Union of India 
- The’ petitioners — Industrial units have challenged the action of the State Government taken under Sec. 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, giving directions to them to stop production activities and take necessary steps to make the waste water being discharged by the units to conform to the standards specified by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board and not to restart the production activities without the permission of State Government and Forest and Environment Department.
- On behalf of the State Government and other respondents, it was contended that these units were not having an operative effluent treatment plant and that they had not abided by the terms of the consent letters given by the State Board under Sec 25(2) of the Water Act.
- Sec 25 of the Water Act prescribes restrictions on new out-lets and new discharges. It inter alia provides that no person shall, without the previous consent of the State Board, establish any industry or process which is likely to discharge sewerage or trade effluent into the stream or well or sewer or on land. The consent of the State Board can be obtained by an application made under Sec 25(2) of the Water Act. Under Sub-section (4) of Section 25 the State Board may grant its consent subject to conditions as it may impose. The State Board may impose conditions including conditions as to the nature and composition, temperature, volume or rate of discharge of the effluent from the premises from which the discharge is to be made.
- The court also agreed with the Respondents contention and held that the State Board has all the powers to impose conditions upon the said industry in the light of Sec 25 of the Water Act, 1974 in order to PCA of the Water pollution
- Accordingly, the petition was dismissed and the petitioners were directed to comply with the directions of the State Government.
Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action v. Union of India 
- In this case, 5 factories were producing Hyaluronic Acid [H-acid] in Bicchari village, Udaipur. These units were discharging highly toxic untreated effluents i.e. iron and gypsum based sludge.
- The result was long-lasting damage to the underground soil, underground water and environment in general. The water in around 60 wells spread over 350 hectares turned red and became unfit for drinking and other household purposes. The entire land of 350 hectares became infertile.
- The Sub-Divisional Magistrate acting under the powers given to him under Sec 144 Cr.P.C ordered to show cause as to why these factories should not be shut down.
- Accordingly, a writ petition was filed by the Environmentalist organization- Indian Council for Enviro-legal Action before the Supreme Court to look into the above matter.
- The court dealt in detail the matters concerned above referred to the cases of Rylands versus Fletcher, Oleum Gas Leakage case, Bhopal Gas Tragedy etc. and applied the Principle of Absolute Liability.
- The Court ordered closure of factories and also ordered them to pay damages up to the tune of Rs. 4 Crores for reversal of ecology of the area.
- The Court also suggested setting up of Green Benches in all the State High Courts.
Bombay Environmental Action Group v. State of Maharashtra
- This writ petition was brought forward by the petitioner- Bombay Environmental Action Group, in order to challenge the permission granted by the Central and State Government for construction of a 500MW Thermal Power Station at District Thane against environmental norms.
- The petitioners contended the project would ruin the ecology of that area, further leading to adversely affecting the aquatic life nearby.
- The defendants contended that there was no possibility of any loss to the surrounding environment as there was no vegetation in that land which could be felled; the land was almost infertile and useless. In addition to this, there was no habitation anywhere near the site area.
- The court therefore, analyzed the provisions of EPA, 1986 and the CRZ Notification and found out that the environmental clearance given by the MoEF was contrary to the Environmental norms.
- But still the petition was not allowed as the greater good requires no electricity cut in India.
- The Court held that- “environmental issues are relevant and deserve consideration. But the needs of the environment require to be balanced with the needs of the Community at large and the needs of developing countries. If one finds that all the safeguards have been taken and followed properly, there is no need for Judiciary to interfere.”
M. C. Mehta v. Union of India [Shri Ram Food and Fertilizers Case / Oleum Gas Leakage Case]
- The rule of Absolute Liability which is a more stringent rule than Strict Liability was laid down in this case. This case is more popular as the oleum gas leakage case.
- Shri Ram Food and fertilizers Industry is a subsidiary of the Delhi Cloth Mills Ltd. Located in a thickly populated area of Delhi.
- On 4th December 1985, there was a leakage of oleum gas from the Sulphuric acid plant resulting in the death of an advocate and several injuries to other persons. Again, on 6th December 1985, there was a minor leakage of Oleum gas from the same plant. Against a complaint under Sec 133 Cr.P.C., the District Magistrate directed the management of Shri Ram Food and Fertilizers Industry to close the unit and to show cause the reason within seven days in writing.
- The petitioner Mr. M. C. Mehta files a PIL u/A 32 of Indian Constitution. The petitioner in his petition requested the Court to direct the Government to take necessary steps to avoid such leakages from the industries engaged in dangerous and hazardous manufacturing processes. He also reminded the Court of the recent incident of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy and prayed the Court to direct the management to shift these industries somewhere far from the city.
- The issues before the Supreme Court in this case were:
- Whether the plant can be allowed to continue or not?
- If not, what measures are require to be taken to prevent the leakages, explosion, air and water pollution?
- Whether there are any safety devices existing in the Plant or not?
- The Supreme Court after great debate and discussion, decided to permit Shri Ram Food and Fertilizers Industry to restore its operations. The Court observed that although such industries are dangerous, they are very essential for the economic and social progress of the country.
- The court directed the management to deposit in the court Rs. 20 lakhs as security for payment of compensation to the victims. Further, all the recommendations of the expert committees are to be complied by the Industry and safety equipment are to be installed at the first instance.
- The court further directed the industries to establish and develop a green belt of 1-5 kms in width around such industries.
- The court appreciated the petitioner Mr. M.C. Mehta for filing a number of PIL and ordered the Shri Ram Food and Fertilizers to pay Rs. 10,000 towards the costs.
- The court directed the Central Government to set up an Environmental Court.
M. C. MEHTA v. Union Carbide Commission
- On December 1984, there was a leakage of poisonous gas – Methyl Isocynate (MIC) from the Union Carbide Corporation India Limited, located at Bhopal which is a subsidiary of UCC, U.S.A.
- This disaster is described as the world’s worst industrial disaster ad it claimed lives of 2,260 people and caused serious injuries to about 6 lakh of people.
- The Government of India, on behalf of the victims filed a suit in U.S District Court, New York. The U.S District Court dismissed all the suits and petitions an representations on the ground of forum non-conveniens i.e. the suits can be more conveniently tried in India.
- Again the UOI filed this present suit through M.C. Mehta versus UCC in the District Court of Bhopal claiming 3.3 billion U.S dollars i.e. Rs. 3900 crores as compensation. The District Court ordered UCC to pay interim relief of 270 million U.S. Dollars i.e. Rs. 350 crore to the victims.
- Aggrieved the UCC filed a civil Revision petition before the High Court at Madhya Pradesh, which reduced the amount from rs. 350 Crores to Rs. 250 Crores.
- Aggrieved both the parties preferred appeals before the Supreme Court on different issues. Several municipal and international issues were involved in this case for considerations. Some such issues were:
- Whether the Parent Company is liable for the torts of its Subsidiary Company abroad? The UCC has maintained it is only morally but not legally liable for its actions.
- Whether the Home State i.e. USA can be held responsible for the hazardous activities of UCC’s Subsidiary Company abroad?
- Whether the Host State i.e. India responsible for enforcing the safety standards for the protection of life and environment and the extent of liability to the victims for the rehabilitation in the event of accidents?
- When the matter was pending before the Supreme Court another incident took place in the Shri Ram Food and Fertilizers Industry of New Delhi. In that case, the Supreme Court evolved the Principle of Absolute Liability from the 1868 Principle of Absolute Liability.
- Keeping that decision in mind the Supreme Court directed the UCC to pay sum of 470 Million U.S. Dollars i.e. Rs. 750 crore towards compensation to the victims for the full and final settlement in satisfaction of all past, present and future claims and the same was accepted by both the parties.
- The Court by exercising its extraordinary jurisdiction quashed all proceedings civil, criminal etc against the UCC.
Sachidanad Pandey v. State of West Bengal
- There was in Alipore- a zoological garden which was in the outskirts of the Calcutta city but overtime the city has grown so much so that now the Zoological garden is in the heart of the city.
- In May 1980, the Taj Group of Hotels wanted to construct a five-star hotel in that area. Accordingly, it was proposed that a four-acre land could be carved out from the Zoological garden for the construction of the hotel.
- Later on looking at the blueprint of the hotel, the Managing Committee of the Zoo raised various objections which were withdrawn later after a compromise. This compromise was settled on the terms of construction of not a 60-storey hotel but a garden hotel.
- Accordingly, 5 petitioners filed a PIL to restrain the Zoo authorities from giving this land to the Hotel Group. The Single Bench High Court judge dismissed the petition and the same was confirmed by the Division Bench of the same High Court.
- Hence, the Appeal was preferred u/A136 to the Supreme Court.
- It was argued from the petitioner’s side that the Principles of Natural Justice has not been observed and those who were interested in the welfare of the zoo were not heard in the matter before the decision was taken.
- This however, was rejected by the court referring to trhe fact that all required precautions have been taken by the Taj Group.
- The Apex Court in unequivocal terms pronounced that “whenever the matter of ecology is brought before the Court, the Court are not to shrug its shoulders saying that it is a matter for policy making authority.”
- But the court at the same time also observed that the approach of the Taj Group of hotels has been credibly fair as they have given all the assurances to preserve the Zoo and its inmates. They also agreed to build a garden hotel keeping in view the ecology of the area and for the protection of the migratory birds.
- The appeal was therefore, dismissed and the construction was allowed.
Tarun Bharat Sangh, Alwar v. Union of India 
- The petitioners have brought this PIL for enforcement of certain notifications under the WPA, 1972; EPA, 1986; and various Forests Laws in areas declared as Reserved Forests in Alwar District of Rajasthan.
- The area now more popular as the Sariska Tiger Park has been declared as the Game Reserve, a Sanctuary, a National Park, a Reserved forests and a Protected Area.
- Thus it is very obvious that any mining activity in that area shall be contrary to and impermissible as under the Forest Conservation Act of 1980
- The Government of Rajasthan has illegally and arbitrarily issued about 400 mining licenses and thereby enabled them to carry on the mining operations- which according to the petitioners will tend to degrade and diminish the ecology of the area.
- The Court after observing various laws and facts went on praising the importance and beauty of the ecology and its resources and said that “every source from which man has increased his power has been used to diminish the prospects of his successors.”
- The Court directed the Central Government to act under Sec 3 of the EPA, 1986 and appoint a Committee to ensure the enforcement of the above laws and to prevent devastation of the environment and wild life within the protected area. The committee shall access the damage alone to the environment and wildlife and make appropriate recommendations to this Court as to ascertain the remedial measures.
- The Court further declared that no mining activity can be carried out in the said area.
Pradeep Krishnen v. Union of India 
- The petitioner filed a PIL U/A 32 challenging constitutional validity of an order issued by the State of M.P. permitting collection of Tendu leaves from sanctuaries and National Parks by villagers living around the boundaries – contending it to be contravening the provisions of WPA, 1972 and violative of Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties.
- He further contended that illegal felling of trees and excessive grazing has led to loss of vegetation cover.
- He also argued that the State of M.P. had rightfully imposed a ban previously in the year 1992 but the said ban was lifted because of the growing business pressures.
- The petitioners contended that by lifting the said previous ban the State has ignored the Flora and Fauna of the area and further that the presence of human beings is a huge threat to the environment and wildlife of the area.
- The court highlighted the importance of Art. 48A and Art 51 A (g).
- Further, the court held that for the tribal to acquire any rights over the forest land in the sanctuaries and national parks- proper procedures have to be followed under the WPA, 1972. Till such procedure is complete, the State government cannot bar entry of the villagers or tribal into the Forest- until such entry is likely to result in the destruction or damage to the environment of the area.
Ivory Traders and Manufacturers Association v. Union of India 
- There are two sets of writ petitions in this case. The first was with regard to the challenge to the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the WPA, 1972 as amended in 1991 and the second was the challenge to the same thing except that the petitioners contended that they deal with ivory derived from the mammoth, an extinct species of the wild animals, not covered by the WPA, 1972
- The provisions of WPA, 1972 as amended in 1991 put a ban on all dealings of ivory and which was contended by the petitioners as unreasonable, unfair and arbitrary and violative of their Freedom of Trade as provided under Art. 19 (1) (g).
- The petitioners further contended that even though theb1991 Amendment Act extinguishes their title over the imported ivory which was lawfully acquired by them- they should be at least allowed to sell their stocks of ivory and the products made therefrom and the Government should buy the same.
- They also contended that the Parliament is not competent to legislate on the matter of remains of ivory coming from an extinct mammoth and the WPA,1972 specifically does not deal with this kind of ivory at all.
- On the other hand, the respondents argued that the WPA, 1972 has been enacted to provide protection and conservation to the wild life and further that the trade in wild life or any part thereto is antithetic to conservation. They further contended that these restrictions were reasonable and necessary in Public Interest and were meant to give efforts to the DPSP’s. further, after the Amendment Act coming into force from 1991 till July 1992, the petitioners have enough time to liquidate their stocks but they did not do so.
- The Court observed that the Principal Act of 1972 and the Amendment Acts of 1982, 1986, 1991 case to the conclusion that the population of elephant has gone down and it has now become endangered species.
- The Parliament judged the situation has rightfully prohibited trade in ivory articles by fulfilling its constitutional obligation u/A 48A and international obligation under CITES, 1973.
- The court declared that trade and businesses at the costs of disrupting life forms cannot be permitted even once.
- Further, the reiterated that rights under Art 19 (1) (g) are not absolute rights and restrictions can be imposed on them in Public interest.
- The Court realized that 50 years ago, the urgency to preserve the elephant may not have been the upper most priority of human beings as at that point of time it was not at the verge of extinction as it is now and therefore, the Court held that the State was totally justified in imposing restrictions on killing of elephants.
- The court declared that:
- No citizen has the Fundamental Right to trade in ivory and ivory articles
- The prohibition is in the public interest
- The ban is not violative of Art.14 and does not suffer from any un reasonableness, unfairness and arbitrariness.
Indian Handicrafts Emporium v. Union of India 
- The question on issue in this case was whether putting a prohibition on the trade of Indian ivory is constitutional or not?
- The case runs on the same lines as that of the case of Ivory Traders and Manufacturers Association versus UOI.
- The Supreme Court held that trade in ivory is totally prohibited under Chapter II-A and any person who has obtained a certificate from the Chief Wild life Warden (CWW) may keep possession of such product but cannot sell it further. Such restriction is a reasonable restriction u/A 19 (1) (g).
Animal and Environmental Legal Defence Fund v. Union of India 
- The petitioners are an association of lawyers and other persons challenging the validity of the order of CWW granting 305 fishing permits to the tribal residing in the Pench National Park situated in the heart of Pench National Park Tiger Reserve. The said area was also a reserve forest.
- U/S 19 of the WPA, 1972 the Collector of the area was required to publish a proclamation and allow the opportunity to people to claim their forests rights.
- Since 1977, no one came to claim their rights on account of illiteracy and unawareness. However in the year 1994 three applications regarding claims had been received. The tribal people have claimed that their fishing rights should be preserved as this is their only source of livelihood.
- The petitioner prayed that if 305 fishing licenses are granted, it will seriously affect the ecology of the area and further, it humanly impossible to monitor 305 fishing licenses operating together.
- Further the petitioners are of the view that the population of Crocodiles, turtles and Migratory Birds might face severe extinction.
- The Court noticed that some efforts have already been made by the State of Maharashtra of limiting the damage by imposing conditions on these licenses.
- The court therefore, issued additional conditions on these licenses:
- Each permit holder shall hold photo ID along with his photograph
- These permits are neither transferable nor heritable.
- Each permit holder shall have the right to enter the National Park and reach the reservoir using the highway only.
- A daily record of entry and exit of such permit holders has to be maintained in a register.
- The fishermen shall be prohibited from lighting fires in the forests for cooking purpose.
Centre For Environmental Law WWF-I v. Union of India 
- In this case, the court suo motu gave the directions to 17 States to comply with the provisions under Sec 33-A and Sec 34 of WPA, 1972
- Sec 33-A deals with immunization aloof the livestock in the sanctuaries
- Sec 34 deal with the Registration of the persons in the forest area possessing arms within 2 months
Fatehsang Gimba Vasava v. State of Gujarat
- The petition has been brought forward by the poor adivasis in the State of Gujarat as they were deprived of the forests rights conferred upon them by the State Government.
- The petitioners contended that they have certain rights in the reserved forests (residence and collection of forest produce) for their hutment and livelihood.
- On the other hand, the forest officers thinking that these articles are covered under the term ‘minor forest produce’ under Sec 2(4) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927- refused them permission for collection of these articles from the forest areas without a transit permit.
- The Court in this case observed that the sole purpose of grating certain special privileges to the residents of forest villages is to give them a source of livelihood.
- The court further observed that the term ‘forest produce’ under Sec 2 (4) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 definitely include bamboo within its ambit but it does not include products made from bamboo, because once the produce becomes a product brought about by human labor- it cases tho come within the ambit of the Section.
- The Court directed the State officials to restore the rights of the aadivasis and allow them with the bamboo to earn their livelihood.
Rural Litigation Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) v. Union of India 
- This is the first environmental PIL in India.
- RLEK, a voluntary organization, wrote a letter to Supreme Court which was treated as a petition. The letter disclosed the unauthorized and illegal mining activities carried in the entire stretch of Doon Valley.
- There was reduction in the Green Belt from 70% to 10%.
- The reckless mining operations, careless disposal of mine debris and unregulated blasting operations disturbed the natural water systems and the supply of water for drinking and irrigation purposes went down.
- Further the quarrying operations destroyed the homes of many migratory birds and compelled the residents of that area to shift from that place.
- The Supreme Court acting promptly prohibited the mining operations with a view to determine if the mines were operated with the safety standards.
- The Supreme Court appointed the Bhargava Committee- to assess the total effects of the mines in the ecology of the area. On the recommendations of the Bhargava Committee, the court ordered that these operation in such an ecologically sensitive area has to be stopped.
- The court further observed that preservation of ecology is a task which not only the States but also the Citizens must undertake u/A 51 A (g).
- The court directed the State to pay Rs. 10,000 to RLEK for their efforts and take steps towards restoration of the ecology.
Subhash Kumar v. State of Bihar
- The present writ petition alleges that the west Bokaro Collaries and the Tata Iron and Steel Co. are polluting River Bokaro by discharging slurry from their washeries into the river.
- The petitioner further alleges that the State of Bihar and SPCB have failed to rake appropriate steps under the Water Act, 1974 for PCA of water pollution.
- The respondents denied the petitioners allegations by saying that all effective steps have been taken by them to prevent the pollution.
- The court agreeing with the respondents dismissed the petition for the following reasons:
- A person whose fundamental right has been violated can take recourse to Art 32 for prevention of water pollution. But PIL cannot be invoked by a person or a group of person to satisfy his/her personal grudge. It is the duty of the court to discourage such actions.
- The court then went into the facts and observed that the petitioner has been purchasing the slurry from the respondents for the last several years. With the passage of time, the petitioner wanted more and more slurry but the respondents refused to sell additional slurry.
- The petition was accordingly dismissed.
T. Damodar Rao v. Special Officer, Municipal Corporation, Hyderabad
- The question involved in this case whether the Life Insurance Co. can legally use that land owned by them in a recreational zone for residential purposes which was an act contrary to the developmental plans of the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad.
- In this case, the writ petition was filed by some of the residents who lived around the Park claiming that construction of residential colony in an area reserved for recreational purposes amounts to violation of their Right to Life u/A 21.
- The court in this case held that any construction of residential house on the land allotted for recreational park would upset the environmental balance of the area.
- The court directed the Government to remove any such construction on recreational zones.
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