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The Concept of Right for the Third Generation – Environment Protection

Written By: Fiza Firdaus Ansari

There is no specific constitutional provision to protect the environment in general. 42nd Amendment Act 1976: Two Articles were added to the constitution (Article 51A & Article 48A)

Environment protection and Fundamental duties

Article 51(A)g states that it shall be the duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife. It’s one of the fundamental duties of every citizen to protect natural assets.

In MC Mehta versus Union of Indian, it was held by the supreme court of India that under article 51(A)g it is the duty of the Central government to introduce compulsory teaching of lessons for 1hour a week on the environment in all educational institutions.

Environment protection and directive principle of state policy

Article 48A  Of the Constitution deals with the protection of ecology and environmental pollution.

Article 48A  Says that the “state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country”.

 Environmental protection and public interest litigation

Article 32 provides that whenever there is a violation of the fundamental right any person can approach the court for an appropriate remedy. PIL would be maintainable before the high court under article 226 and before the Supreme Court under article 32 pertaining to the matter of environmental protection.

 In MC Mehta versus Union of India, the victims of the gas leaks were well successful in claiming damages by the means of PIL.

Environment protection and the fundamental rights

Article 21  Please that no person shall be deprived by his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

In Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India The Supreme Court while elucidating on the  Importance of the right to life under article 21 held that the right to life is not confined to mere animal existence but extends to the right to live with basic human dignity.

Environment and Indian Constitution

The world in vitamin did not find a place in the original constitution articles which are related to environmental protection in Initial Constitution;

Article 47 improve the public health

Article 48 organization of animal husbandry and agriculture on modern and scientific lines.

Article 49 The protection of the Natural Environment from spoliation and disfigurement.

Maneka Gandhi v. Union Of India

  • For the first time, the supreme court transformed these rights into positive rights and imposed an affirmative duty on the state to enforce them.
  • The concept of reasonableness was projected. Francis Carolic Mulhin v. Administrator, Delhi “right to life enshrined in Article 21 cannot be restricted to mere animal existence.  It means more than just physical survival Murali S. Deora v. Union of India- Prohibit Smoking at Public Place.

The Right to Clean Environment

  • Under Article 21
  • Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra, Dehradun V. State of UP. Recognized right to live in a clean environment.
  • Oleum Gas leakage Case [MC Mehta v. UOI, 1987]
  • Ganga Pollution Case [MC Mehta V. UOI, 1988]
  • Subhash Kumar v. the State of Bihar

The right to life includes the right to live properly and have the benefit of all-natural resources.

Often referred to as part of the third generation of human rights, the concept of environmental rights is unclear in meaning and content. Environmental rights are elusive because there is no universal definition, and they are controversial because they hybridize the eccentric perspectives of environmentalists and the anthropocentric perspectives dominant among human rights activists (Apple 2004).

No binding international agreement has had environmental rights as its primary focus because such rights fail to fit neatly into either of these two groups. This fact combined with the scarcity of binding international legal instruments has prevented environmental rights from becoming international law. Nonetheless, progress on defining and enforcing environmental rights continues on the international, regional, and national levels.

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