article 14 and environment

Our constitution doesn’t provide for any specific right to clean, wholesome and pollution-free environment. The lacuna has however been set off by judicial activism as a consequence of which a few of the fundamental rights have been articulated for environment protection.

Article 14

It states that “the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” The right to equality may also be infringed by government decisions that have an impact on the environment.

Cases where Article 14 has played vital role in protection of environment:

Sushila Saw Mill v. State of Orissa[1], A State Law prohibiting the operation of a sawmill in the Keonjhar district in Orissa was upheld by the supreme court as it would impede the preservation of forest wealth. The court considered it to be a reasonable class legislation to protect illicit chopping of forest trees.

The supreme court rejected the argument that a restriction on construction activities on a lake violated Article 14 because such a restriction was not extended to other lake also. The court observed in MC Mehta vs Union of India[2] that each ecosystem is unique in itself and such restriction is therefore valid.

So also, it was held that there was no violation of article 14 when the supreme court ordered the closure of mining operations in some areas do in certain other areas search operations what to be phased out over a period of time, Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra Dehradun v. State of Uttar Pradesh[3].

In Bangalore Medical Trust V. B.S Muddappa[4], an improvement scheme was prepared by the City Improvement Board of Bangalore for the purpose of extending the city. A low-level park was to be developed for which an area was kept under this scheme. But under the direction of the chief minister the area kept for the low-level park was to be converted into the civic amenity site where the hospital was to be constructed. As soon as the construction began, the residents moved to the high court. The petition moved in by the residents was allowed by the high court. But in appeal to the supreme court, the appellant contended that the power to allot sites is completely a discretionary one and the developing authority has the right to allow the site for making hospital rather than a park. And thus, the diverted use of the land was justified in the eyes of the appellant.

By explaining the importance of open spaces and parks in the development of urban areas, the supreme court rejected the appeal. The Hon’ble court further stated that the open spaces, recreation, playing grounds and protection of ecology are the matters of vital importance in the interest of public and crucial for the development. Keeping open spaces for the interest of the public is justified cannot be sold or given on lease to any private person solely for the sake of monetary gains.[5]


[1] Sushila Saw Mill v. State of Orissa, AIR 1995 SC 2484.

[2] M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, 1997 3 SCC 715.

[3] Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra, Dehradun v. State of U.P. AIR 1985 SC 652.

[4] Bangalore Medical Trust V. B.S Muddappa 1991 AIR 1902, 1991 SCR (3) 102.

[5] Pooja Kapur, Constitutional Provisions for Environment Protection in India, Ipleaders, June 28,2019.

Aishwarya Says:

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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