VELLORE CITIZENS WELFARE FORUM
UNION OF INDIA
Citation: AIR 1996 SC 2715: (1996) 5 SCC 647Bench: Kuldip Singh, Faizan Uddin, K. VenkataswamiNo of Judges: 3Appeal No: Writ Petition (C) No. 914 Of 1991
- The petitioner- Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum, filed a Public Interest Litigation U/A 32 of Indian Constitution.
- Petition was filed 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.
- This is a leading case in which the Supreme Court critically analyzed the relationship between environment and development.
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.
Important Acts and laws concerned:
- Public Interest Litigation
- Sustainable Development, Precautionary Principle and Polluter Pays Principle
- Sec 3(3) of EPA, 1986
- Penalty Provisions of Water Act, 1974