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Environmental protection and its preservation is concern of all generation on earth today. Environmental is the clearest example that the natural and human activities are interconnected. Today, environmental destruction threatened human life. 

The main cause of environmental destruction and degradation is human activity. Due to this destruction, every country or whole world has environmental laws to protect and preserve the environment. In India, many constitutional provisions ensure protection of environment from pollution. Fundamental Rights play an important role to safeguard environment. Constitution of India ensures fundamental rights and fundamental duties to citizens and state respectively. The Indian Constitution is the first constitution in the world which contains specific provisions for the protection and improvement of the environment. In this article, we will discuss what environmental law is and the importance of fundamental rights and different case laws. The environment protection raises the status of fundamental laws. 


Environmental law, it is the collection of laws, rules, regulations, agreement and common law that governs and analysis that how human interact with environment. The purpose of environmental law is to protect, preserve, conserve and safeguard the environment. Environmental laws also issue guidelines or rules for people who use natural resources and how.[i] The constitutional provisions play an important role to achieve the protection of environment. Principle 1 of Stockholm Declaration finds reflection of environmental protection and laws in Article 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution dealing with right to equality, freedom of expression and right to life respectively. Industrial and environmental hazards violates most of the fundamental rights of humanity, these rights include life, health, express and association. All these rights are dealing with part – 3 i.e. Fundamental Rights. There are various implied rights in Part-3 and judicial activism elucidated these implied rights under Part-3 and environment protection is one of them. Thus, the Indian Judiciary has provided importance to the Human Rights approach for the protection of the environment.


· RIGHT TO LIFE AND RIGHT TO LIVE IN HEALTHY ENVIRONMENTAL: Article 21 of Indian Constitution ensures every person has right to life and personal liberty. Article 21 is the heart of fundamental right and has received expanded meaning from time to time. Article 21 guarantees dignified life to all of us but it would become meaningless if there is no healthy environment. So, there is close link between life and environment. In MC Mehta v. Union of India[ii], this case popularly known as OLEUM GAS LEAKAGE case. The Supreme Court again impliedly treated right to live in pollution free environment is part of fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. In case of L.K. Koolwa v. State,[iii] the Rajasthan Court held that the maintenance of health, sanitation, preservation of the environment falls under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and it affects the life of the citizens and it amounts to slow poising and reducing the life of the citizen because of the hazard created and if it is not checked. Thus, the judiciary has acted very cautiously while interpreting the Article 21 and declaring the right to clean, safe and healthy environment is a part of Article 21 of the Constitution.

· RIGHT TO LIVELIHOOD: Now, the right to life has also includes right to livelihood and right to earn livelihood. This broad interpretation of the right to life done because in last few years, the environmental impact threatens the poor people of their livelihood by dislocating their work of place or living and thus deprive of them their livelihood. In case of Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation,[iv] the right to livelihood is a part of Article 21 was recognized by Supreme Court in this case. The fact of this case was that the petitioners are journalist and tow pavement dwellers, they challenged the government scheme by which the pavement dwellers were being removed from the Bombay pavements. Evicting a pavement dweller or slum dweller from his habitant amount to depriving his right to livelihood which is guaranteed by Article 21. In this, the court held that Municipal Corporation provides alternate sites or accommodation to slum or pavement dwellers within the reasonable distance form their original sites.

· FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION: Article 19(1)(a) ensure every citizen to right of freedom of speech and expression. In India, most of the environmental laws and jurisprudence have developed by judicial activism. Most of the cases came before the court as a form of Public Interest Litigation where it highlighted the violation of the rights of the people of healthy environment. Freedom of speech and expression is also include press under Article 19(1)(a). In India, public opinion, media and press have played an important role to forming the public experience of environmental issues. In case of P.A. Jacob v. The Superintendent of Police, Kottayam[v], the Kerala High Court held that freedom of speech under article 19(1)(a) does not include freedom to use loudspeaker or sound amplifier. Thus, noise pollution caused by the loudspeaker are the violation of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

· RIGHT TO KNOW: The right to know plays an important role in environmental matters and it is implicit part of Article 19(1)(a). This principle fundamental right said that any government plan of construction of dam or information of the proposed location of nuclear power stations or thermal power plants and hazardous industries which affect the lives and health of the people of that area must be published and it is the right of every citizen.

· FREEDOM TO CARRY ON TRADE OR BUSINESS: Article 19(1)(g) of Indian Constitution guarantees to all citizens has the right to practice any profession, or carry on any occupation, trade or business. This right is not an absolute right. But it has environmental interests from the hazards of any trade or business can be protected. Abhilash Textile v. Rajkot Municipal Corporation,[vi] In this case, the petitioners were discharging dirty water from the factory on public road and in public drainage without purifying the same and causing damage to the public damage to the public health. The court held that no one can carry on the business in the manner by which business activity becomes health hazard to society.

· RIGHT TO EQUALITY: Article 14 ensures equality before law and equal protection of laws that means everyone is equal in eye of law. There are two cases where court declared the action of government illegal. Dr. G.N. Khajuria v. Delhi Development Authority,[vii] In this case, the land reserved for park in the residential area was allotted by DDA for the construction of nursery school. The court held that the allotment amounted to misuse of power and being illegal and hence liable to cancelled and the court also held liable and should be punished illegal action.[viii]


We do not care and think about our environmental degradation. Due to human activities environment become polluted. In the greed of sustainable development, we never thought for environment which we need to live a dignified life. Recently, 24,000 people died in Delhi due to pollution and millions of people died during a year. The floods, cyclones in Bihar and Kolkata are results of environment pollution because the ecological system of India and all over the world is unbalanced. It is became necessary to made laws on environment and awarded rigorous punishment to them. As we discussed in our article, how judiciary interprets the article and made environmental law as fundamental right by judgements. Environmental law is one of the most important laws for health of an individual and our next generation but we always break rules in some ways by polluting water, air, land and increasing noise etc.

[i] Environmental law, Britannica (last visited on 29th August, 2020), https://www.britannica.com/topic/environmental-law
[ii] A.I.R 1987 S.C. 1086
[iii] A.I.R. 1988 Raj. 2
[iv] A.I.R. 1986 S.C. 180
[v] A.I.R. 1993. Ker. 1
[vi] A.I.R. 1988 Guj. 57
[vii] (1995) 5 SCC 762

[viii] Dr. Paramjit S. Jaswal, Environmental law, Fourth Edition, 2015, Reprint: 2019 
This blog is authored by- Nishu Singh

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