Environment protection under the Indian constitution

Environment protection under the Indian constitution

Environment protection under the Indian constitution

The provisions identified towards the environment in the constitution of India are found amongst Fundamental Duties, Directive Principles, and Fundamental Rights.

The constitution of India has certain rights and duties on environment protection in the constitution are additionally a result of this evolving nature and growth prospective of the fundamental law of the land. The preamble to the Indian constitution ensures a socialist pattern of the society and dignity of the people. Decent standard of living as well as pollution-free environment is inherent in this. 

The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 characterizes environment asenvironment includes water, air and land, and the interrelationship which exists among and between air, water and land, and human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-organism, and property”.

Fundamental duties of the Indian Constitution

The chapter on fundamental duties of the Indian Constitution clearly enforces the duty on every resident towards protecting the environment. Article 51-A (g), states that “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.”

Directive Principles

The Directive principles under the Indian constitution engaged towards ideals of building a welfare state. Good environment is additionally one of the components of the welfare state.  Article 47 states that the “State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its individuals and the improvement of public health as amongst its primary duties. The improvement of public health also includes the protection and improvement of environment without which public health cannot be assured.”

Article 48 manages with organization of agriculture as well as animal husbandry. It guides the State to take measures for organizing agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines. Particularly, it should take measures for preserving and improving the breeds and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.

 Article 48 -A of the constitution states that “the state shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country”.

Fundamental rights

The Constitution of India under part III ensures fundamental rights which are fundamental for the development of every person and towards which an individual is inherently entitled through virtue of being human alone. Right to environment is also a right without which development of individual as well as the realization of their full potential shall not be possible. Articles 21, 14 and 19 of this part have been used for environmental protection.

According to Article 21 of the constitution states that “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”. Article 21 guarantees a fundamental right towards life. Right to environment, free of the danger of disease and infection is inherent in it. Right to a healthy environment is an important attribute of the right to live with human dignity. 

Excessive noise creates pollution in society. The constitution of India under Article 19 (1) states that (a) read with Article 21 of the constitution guarantees the right to a decent environment and right to live peacefully.
 Article 19 (1) (g) of the Indian constitution presents fundamental right on every inhabitant to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business. This is subjected to reasonable restrictions. A resident cannot carry on business activity if it is health hazards to the society or the general public. Thus safeguards for environment protection are inherent in this.

Apart from the above-mentioned rules, Supreme Court (via article 32) and High Courts (via article 226) have often admitted towards public interest litigation related to the environment.

At local as well as village level, Panchayats were empowered under the constitution for taking measures such as soil conservation, water management, forestry and protection of the environment as well as the promotion of ecological aspects.

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eStartIndia Team

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