Supreme Court’s decisions on sustainable manner of industrialization

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

High Court Lucknow

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The Supreme Court of India has made several landmark decisions on the sustainable manner of industrialization. Here are some of the key decisions:

  1. Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum vs. Union of India (1996): In this case, the Supreme Court emphasized the importance of the “precautionary principle” in environmental decision-making. The precautionary principle requires that in situations where there is scientific uncertainty regarding the potential harm of an activity, caution should be exercised in order to protect the environment. The Court also held that industries must adopt the “polluter pays” principle, which requires polluting industries to pay for the environmental damage caused by their activities.
  2. M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India (1987): In this case, the Supreme Court issued a series of orders to shut down polluting industries in Delhi. The Court held that the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution includes the right to a clean environment. The Court also established the principle of “absolute liability”, which holds that industries engaged in hazardous activities are strictly liable for any harm caused by their activities, regardless of fault.
  3. T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad vs. Union of India (1996): In this case, the Supreme Court imposed a ban on the felling of trees in all forests in the country. The Court held that forests are an essential part of the ecosystem and are necessary for maintaining ecological balance. The Court also directed the establishment of a centralized system for monitoring and enforcing environmental laws.
  4. Samaj Parivartana Samudaya vs. State of Karnataka (2012): In this case, the Supreme Court held that the government must ensure that industrial projects are evaluated for their environmental impact before granting clearance. The Court held that the “precautionary principle” and the “polluter pays” principle must be applied while evaluating projects. The Court also directed the establishment of a National Green Tribunal to exclusively deal with environmental disputes.

These decisions by the Supreme Court demonstrate the importance of sustainable industrialization and the need to balance economic development with environmental protection. The Court has consistently emphasized the need for caution and responsibility in decision-making and has held industries accountable for their environmental impact.