Environment protection under Constitutional Framework of India

Pooja P Vardhan
Contd from previous issue
Excessive noise creates pollution in the society. The constitution of India under Article 19 (1) (a) read with Article 21 of the constitution guarantees right to decent environment and right to live  peacefully. In PA Jacob vs. The Superintendent of Police Kottayam, AIR 1993 Ker 1, the Kerala High Court held that freedom of speech under article 19 (1)(a) does not include freedom to use loud speakers or sound amplifiers. Thus, noise pollution caused by the loud speakers can be controlled under article 19 (1) (a) of the constitution.
Article 19 (1) (g) of the Indian constitution confers fundamental right on every citizen to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business. This is subject to reasonable restrictions. A citizen cannot carry on business activity, if it is health hazards to the society or general public. Thus safeguards for environment protection are inherent in this. The Supreme Court, while deciding the matter relating to carrying on trade of liquor in Cooverjee B. Bharucha Vs Excise commissioner, Ajmer (1954, SC 220) observed that, if there is clash between environmental protection and right to freedom of trade and occupation, the courts have to balance environmental interests with the fundamental rights to carry on any occupations.
Public Interest Litigation under Article 32 and 226 of the constitution of India resulted in a wave of environmental litigation. The leading environmental cases decided by the Supreme Court includes case of closure of limestone quarries in the Dehradun region (Dehradun Quarrying case, AIR 1985 SC 652), the installation of safeguard at a chlorine plant in Delhi  M.C. Mehta V. Union of India, AIR 1988 SC 1037) etc. In Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum vs. Union of India (1996) 5 SCC 647, the Court observed that “the Precautionary Principle” and “the Polluter Pays Principle” are essential features of “Sustainable Development.”
At local and village level also, Panchayats have been empowered under the constitution to take measures such as soil conservation, water management, forestry and protection of the environment and promotion of ecological aspect.
To be Contd