TOP 10 LANDMARK JUDGEMENTS OF ENVIORNMENTAL LAW
- C. Mehta v. UCC, 1986:
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. Also, the Court by exercising its extraordinary jurisdiction quashed all proceedings civil, criminal etc against the UCC.
- C. Mehta v. UOI [Shri Ram Food And Fertilizers Case / Oleum Gas Leakage Case], 1987:
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. 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. It further directed the industries to establish and develop a green belt of 1-5 kms in width around such industries.
- Damodar Rao v. Special Officer, Municipal Corporation, Hyderabad. 1987:
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. It directed the Government to remove any such construction on recreational zones.
- Rural Litigation Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) v. UOI, 1988:
This was the first environmental PIL in India. The Supreme Court acting promptly prohibited the mining operations with a view to determine if the mines were operated with the safety standards. It 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 operations 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).
- Bombay Environmental Action Group v. State Of Maharashtra, 1991:
The court 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 for construction of a 500MW Thermal Power Station at District Thane. But still the petition was not allowed as the greater good requires no electricity cut in India.
- Goa Foundation v. Konkan Railways Corporation, 1992:
In this landmark judgement, 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.”
- Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. UOI, 1996:
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 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.
- Indian Council For Enviro-Legal Action v. UOI , 1996:
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. It 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.
- C. Mehta v. UOI (Ganga River Pollution Case), 1997:
The court in this case 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 and 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.
- S Jagannath v. UOI, 1997:
The court ordered the following no part of the agricultural land and the salt farms could be converted into Aquaculture farms; emphasized on the Precautionary Principle and the Polluter Pays Principle. Also held that no shrimp culture ponds can be constructed in the coastal areas and Aquaculture industries functioning at present within 1km radius of the Chilika Lake must compensate the affected persons.