“The Earth is what we all have in common.”
PIL stands for Public Interest Litigation, and the cases brought under this category are filed for the greater betterment of society, or the public interest. In the case of Hussainara Khatoon Vs. Union of India, the notion of PIL was first introduced in India in 1979, when the court examined the rights of under-trial inmates and their inhumane conditions.
Justice P.N. Bhagwati played a major role in developing the concept of PIL and A powerful weapon has been placed in the hands of the people in the event of a breach of a public obligation that affects the general population.
A PIL can be filed with respect to the Environmental degradation under the following circumstances:
- Polluting the environment in any way that is likely to harm the general population.
- Disregarding the poor’s basic human rights, resulting in violations. For example, if a farmer’s farming land has been taken away from him without sufficient recompense.
- Municipal corporations or panchayats failing to perform their duties, such as failing to maintain adequate water and sanitation services in the community.
- If there is a clash between religious freedom and environmental protection, a problem occurs. The usage of loudspeakers in temples or mosques, for example, causes noise pollution.
Why Environmental PILs are filed? –
The parties affected by pollution are often broad, scattered, and unnamed groups of persons in most situations of environmental lawsuit. Because nature and inanimate objects cannot represent themselves in court, the Supreme Court has enabled any member of the public with a substantial interest to commence a legal process to assure the environment’s protection and enhancement since the late 1970s.This is referred to as Public Interest Litigation (PIL).
PILs have been used to start a number of cases involving environmental issues. All of the cases were brought to the court’s attention through PILs, beginning with the Dehradun limestone mining case in 1983, followed by the Ganga water pollution case, the Delhi vehicular pollution case, the Vellore leather industry pollution case, and the T N Godavarman case. These cases were brought on behalf of other persons, groups, or the general public by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and environmental activists. In each of these cases, the courts have been asked to guarantee that the statute Acts and constitutional provisions aimed at protecting the environment and enforcing fundamental rights are carried out.
The causes for the unexpected increase in environmental cases are numerous and complex, but one key aspect has been insufficient enforcement of environmental laws and policies. As a result, environmentalists, NGOs, and impacted residents have turned to the courts, particularly the higher judiciary, for appropriate redress. Between 1980 and 2000, the country’s higher judiciary dealt with a wide range of environmental issues and made substantial contributions to the development of environmental jurisprudence concepts. In a series of rulings, it was determined that Article 21 of the Indian Constitution includes the right to a clean and healthy environment. While doing so, individual judges used their own subjective understanding of what was needed for a healthy and clean environment.
The use of PIL has increased over time, and greater environmental consciousness has resulted in a large increase in the number of PILs filed each year. The following are some of the landmark cases in which a PIL was filed:
- Vanashakti and 4 others Vs Union of India-
In this case, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was launched in the Bombay High Court to prevent the last forests of Aarey in Mumbai from being cut down for development purposes. Many environmentalists and social activists objected to the government’s instructions and went to court, but the court dismissed their claims based on the facts and circumstances of the cases. This also demonstrates that the courts consider not only the environmental component, but also the interests and requirements of society.
- Bombay Environmental Action Group Vs The State Of Maharashtra and others-
The destruction of mangroves in Maharashtra was at stake in this case, and a PIL was filed in the Bombay High Court in response. Because the mangrove ecosystem is such an important element of the habitat, the court ruled that it is the state’s responsibility to restore these regions, and a committee was appointed to look into the situation.
- Kalia Sethi and anothers Vs. State of Odisha and others–
The role of the National Green Tribunal in environmental cases was discussed in this case. The High Court of Odisha ruled that the National Green Tribunal was established to oversee environmental laws and ensure that, in the event of a breach, the offence may be prosecuted.
Courts have used Public Interest Litigation as a successful tool in dealing with instances involving environmental issues. The courts must ensure that the use of PIL for private purposes is not permitted because it contradicts the concept’s core purpose. The most crucial attribute of PILs is that they serve the general public.
According to Article 51(g) of the Indian Constitution, it is also the responsibility of every citizen to protect the environment and have compassion for living creatures. When there is a violation of duty, the PIL under Articles 32 and 226 must be used.
In the end, the court decides if a case deserves a hearing and how serious the offence is. PIL, on the other hand, plays a critical role in providing justice not only to those involved in the case, but also to the entire community by safeguarding the rights of all. Therefore, by this we can say that Environmental PILs are highly effective.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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