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For more than three decades now, the Indian courts have delivered far-reaching judgments on a range of significant environmental matters. In their effort to adjudicate complex disputes with serious environmental repercussions, involving the interplay of multiple social, economic and political factors, the courts have developed a framework of environmental rights and legal principles, which now forms an integral part of Indian environmental jurisprudence. The judiciary invokes this framework creatively to identify constitutional, statutory and common law obligations of public and private actors to protect the environment, and to enforce the performance of related duties. There is, however, limited in-depth study of these crucial rights and principles in existing legal literature.
Indian Environmental Law: Key Concepts and Principles fills this gap through its critical analysis of the evolution of this environmental legal framework in India. It studies the origins of environmental rights, substantive and procedural, and the four most significant legal principles— principle of sustainable development, polluter pays principle, precautionary principle and the public trust doctrine—and elaborates how Indian courts have defined, interpreted and applied them across a range of contexts.
As environmental litigation and legal adjudication struggle to respond to this crisis, conceptual clarity about the content, application and limitations of environmental rights and legal principles is crucial for the improvement of environmental governance. This book explores the judicial reasoning and underlying assumptions in landmark judgments of the Supreme Court, the High Courts and the National Green Tribunal, and aims to provide the reader with a comprehensive understanding of this framework of rights and principles.
Shibani Ghosh is a Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, where her research and writing focuses on environmental law and governance. She is also an Advocate-on-Record at the Supreme Court of India, and practices before the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal.
Commonly used Latin Phrases
List of Acronyms
Foreword by Pratap Bhanu Mehta
1. The Judiciary and the Right to Environment in India: Past, Present and Future
2. Procedural Environmental Rights in Indian Law
3. Sustainable Development and Indian Environmental Jurisprudence
4. The Polluter Pays Principle: Scope and Limits of Judicial Decisions
5. The Precautionary Principle
6. Public Trust Doctrine in Indian Environmental Law
7. The Judicial Implementation of Environmental Law in India
Notes on the Contributors