The Role of Indian Judiciary in Protection of Environment in India


Environment is the wellspring of life on earth like water, air, soil, etc., and determines the presence, development and improvement of humanity and all its activities. Ancient India texts highlights that is the dharma of each individual in the society to protect nature and the term ‘nature’ includes land, water, trees and animals which are of great importance to us.
The Role of Indian Judiciary in Protection of Environment in India
The Environment (Protection) Act was enacted in the year 1986. It was enacted with the main objective to provide the protection and improvement of environment and for matters connected therewith. Article 48A of the Constitution of India specifies that the State shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. Article 51 A further provides that every citizen shall protect the environment. 

Some of the important legislation for environment protection are as follows:

  • The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
  • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
  • The Environment Protection Act, 1986
  • The Hazardous Waste Management Regulations, etc.

The Indian Penal Code has Sec. 268 which provides that “a person is guilty of a public nuisance who does any act or is guilty of an illegal omission which causes any common injury, danger or annoyance to the public or to the people in general who dwell or occupy property in the vicinity, or which must necessarily cause injury, obstruction, danger, or annoyance to persons who may have occasion to use any public right.”

In case of public nuisance, the Penal Code provides for fines up to Rs. 200/- by way of punishment (Sec. 290 IPC.) and for making the atmosphere noxious to health Rs. 500/- only (Sec.78 IPC.).


Major environmental issues are forest and agricultural degradation of land, resource depletion (such as water, mineral, forest, sand, and rocks), environmental degradation, public health, loss of biodiversity, loss of resilience in ecosystems, livelihood security for the poor.

Population growth and environmental quality:

Population growth, because it can place increased pressure on the assimilation of the environment, is also seen as a major cause of air, water, and solid-waste pollution. This environmental degradation ultimately reduces agricultural yields and food availability, famines and diseases and death, thereby reducing the rate of population growth.

Water pollution:

Discharge of untreated sewage is the single most important cause for pollution of surface and ground water in India. Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977.This Act provides for levying and collection of a cess on water consumed by industries and local authorities.

Air pollution:

Air pollution in India is a serious issue with the major sources being fuel wood and biomass burning, fuel adulteration, vehicle emission and traffic congestion. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was passed in 1981 to regulate air pollution and there have been some measurable improvements.

Noise pollution:

Noise pollution or noise disturbance is the disturbing or excessive noise that may harm the activity or balance of human or life. The source of most outdoor noise worldwide is mainly caused by machines and transportation systems, motor vehicles, aircraft, and trains.


1. Combustible solid wastes should be burnt in incinerators.
2. Solid organic wastes including fecal matter and wastes from tanneries should be converted into compost manure at the places far away from the cities and human dwellings.
3. Non-combustible solid waste materials like ash, rubbish, tins, glass pieces if not recoverable for usual purposes should be disposed of by landfill method in low-lying areas.


India’s new Narendra Modi-led government is reviewing various environmental laws. On August 29 the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change issued an to set up what it called a high level committee to various Acts including the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

In its order it said, “it has been decided to constitute a High Level Committee to review these Acts and suggest appropriate amendments to bring them in line with their objectives.” And this work has to be completed within two months from the date of the order.

However, since the environment is a complex, variable and extensive system, protecting the environment is a hard and enduring task. A wonderful and quality environment must be achieved by continuous planning, governmental policies, efforts of the enterprises and public participation.
It is the responsibility of everyone to protect our environment. Let us fulfill our responsibilities in environmental protection, creating a quality ecological environment and sharing wonderful green living together.
Written by- Tanvi Mathur
                    SS Jain Subodh Law College


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