Notable case laws regarding environment
Decided Case Law-
Award of Damages-
M.C. Mehta V. Kamal Nath [AIR 2000 SC 1997]
In this case, the apex court held that pollution is a civil wrong and by its nature, it is a tort committed against the public at large. A person who is guilty of causing pollution is bound to pay damages for the restoration of the environment and ecology. A person is liable to provide damages to the person who suffered loss by the act of the offender.
M.C. Mehta V. Union of India [AIR 1987 SC 1086] (Sri Ram Food’s Case)
This case has helped in developing the concept of absolute liability. In this case, the Supreme Court held that where an enterprise is engaged in hazardous activities and it is causing harm to anyone as a result of an accident during operation such as leakage of gas, then the enterprise is liable to compensate all those who are affected by such accident and no exception can work as a defence.
Prohibition of Activities-
Subha Rao V. State of Himachal Pradesh [AIR 1989 SC 171]
Pungent smell in the environment is violative of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. In this case, the Supreme Court ordered the closure of a bone factory because the pungent smell from the factory was polluting the environment and making the lives of the people miserable.
Vellore Citizen’s Welfare Forum V. Union of India [(1996) 5 SCC 650]
A PIL was filed by the petitioner regarding the pollution caused by the discharge of untreated effluents by the tanneries into the river, agricultural fields, open lands, etc, The Court held that though the industries play a vital role in the development of the country the industries cannot be given liberty to destroy the ecology, cause a health hazard and degrade the environment. Such industries are not allowed to function unless they install pollution control devices.
M.C. Mehta V. Union of India [AIR 1992 SC 382]
Educating people about the environment is necessary. In this case, the Supreme Court directed the government to spread awareness and knowledge for the protection of the environment through various mass media agencies and other mediums. The court also directed to make the environment a compulsory subject in schools and colleges.
Jacob V. Superintendent of Police, Kottayam [AIR 1993 Kerala 1]
Right to life includes the right to a safe environment including safe air, quality, safe from noise, and exposure to dangerous and disastrous levels of noise to unwilling persons amounts to a clear breach of the right to life which has been guaranteed under Article 21.
M.C. Mehta v. Union of India [AIR 1996 SC 2715]
It is one of the important judgments regarding the environment. This PIL was regarding the yellowing of the Taj Mahal. NEERI and Vardharajan committee was appointed to submit a report and according to the report submitted, the court found that the chemical, foundries, or hazardous industries were the major sources of pollution in the area. In this case, the Supreme Court for the first time recognized the concept of the polluter pays principle. The Court analyzed various factors before giving directions. The court ordered the industries to shift away or to use gas instead of coke and directed the industries to safeguard the interest of the workers.