Rajinder da Dhaba, a well-known eatery in Delhi’s Safdarjung Enclave, is currently under scrutiny by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). This follows a complaint from the Safdarjung Enclave AB Block Market Welfare Association, which alleges that the establishment is violating environmental regulations and contributing to noise and air pollution. In response, the NGT has instructed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to inspect the area for potential violations.

Constitutional and legislative mandate

In response to the Stockholm Declaration, 1972, a landmark event in the history of international environmental law, India took steps to incorporate environmental protection principles into its legal framework. This led to the insertion of two important articles in the Indian Constitution in 1976:

Article 48-A: This article directs the State to endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard forests and wildlife.

Article 51-A(g): This clause imposes a fundamental duty on every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.

The combined impact of Articles 48-A and 51-A(g) of the Indian Constitution signifies a dual constitutional responsibility for both the State and its citizens to protect, preserve, and enhance India’s environmental conditions.

Apart from the constitutional mandate to protect and improve the environmental conditions, there are a series of legislations available on the subject but more relevant legislations for our purpose are the Forest [Conservation] Act, 1980; the Water [Prevention and Control of Pollution] Act, 1974; the Wildlife [Protection] Act, 1972; the Environment [Protection] Act, 1986;the Air[Prevention and Control of Pollution] Act, 1981; the National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995; the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010; the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and the Hazardous Wastes [Management and Handling] Amendment Rules, 2003 etc.

The Water [Prevention and Control of Pollution] Act, 1974 provides for the prevention and control of water pollution and the maintaining or resorting of the integrity of water. This Act prohibits any poisonous, noxious or polluting material from entering into any source, stream or well.

The Air [Prevention and Control of Pollution] Act, 1981 has been designed to prevent, control and abatement of air pollution in the climate. Main sources of air pollution are industries, factories, automobiles, domestic fires and vehicles etc.

The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 was enacted following the Bhopal Gas Tragedy to prevent and control environmental pollution and improve environmental quality. It defines “environment” broadly to include water, air, land, and the interrelationships between these elements and all living beings, including plants, animals, and micro-organisms.

There is no deficiency of available legislations on environmental protection in India but enforcement of these legislations has been far from satisfactory. There is urgent need for the effective, successful and well–organized enforcement of the Constitutional mandate and other environmental legislations or laws in India.

Judicial involvement

In the Sri Ram Food and Fertilizer case [M.C. Mehta v. Union of India AIR 1987 SC 1086.], following a major gas leak in Bhopal, the Supreme Court ruled that enterprises engaged in hazardous activities bear absolute liability for any harm caused by accidents related to their operations. This means they are solely responsible for compensating all affected parties, without any exemptions, emphasizing strict accountability for incidents involving dangerous substances.

In the Dehradun Valley case [Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra v. State of Uttar Pradesh AIR 1985 SC 652.], 12 haphazard and dangerous limestone quarrying in the Missouri Mountain range of the Himalayas, dynamite eroding hills, and thousands of acres of limestone quarries disrupted the valley’s hydrological system. The Apex Court ordered the closing of limestone quarrying in the hills and observed: “It will undoubtedly cause hardship to them, but it is a value that has to be compensated for protecting and protecting people’s right to live in a clean and healthy environment with minimal disturbance of the ecological balance.”

In Subba Rao v. State of Himachal Pradesh [AIR 1989 SC 171.], the Supreme Court ordered the closure of a bone factory due to its pollution causing significant discomfort to people due to foul odors. The Court emphasized that no business should operate at the expense of public health.

Similarly, to preserve the environment and control pollution near tourist resorts in Badkhal and Surajkund, the Supreme Court directed the cessation of mining activities within a two-kilometer radius of these areas.

In Almitra H. Patel v. Union of India [AIR 2000 SC 1256], the Supreme Court reiterated the observations made in Wadehra’s case [B.L. Wadehra v. Union of India AIR 1996 SC 2969.]:

“The capital of India, Delhi is an old and well–known city which is one of the polluted cities in the world. e authorities and government are responsible for pollution control and environmental protection is not able to provide natural clean and healthy environment to the residents of Delhi. e ambient air is so polluted that it is difficult for humans to breathe. More and more people are suffering from respiratory diseases and throat infections. e Yamuna River, the main source of drinking water supply, is a free dumping place for untreated sewerage and industrial effluents. Apart from air and water pollution, the city is almost an open dustbin. Garbage scattered all over Delhi is a common sight.”

The “polluter pays principle” holds that enterprises responsible for pollution should bear the financial costs of preventing damage and cleaning up. This principle, recognized by the Supreme Court, extends beyond compensating victims to include restoring the environment. It imposes absolute liability on polluters, increasing their financial responsibility to cover both compensation for victims and the costs of ecosystem restoration. This approach aligns with sustainable development goals, ensuring that environmental damage is mitigated and repaired by those responsible for causing it.

Enforcement of Environmental laws : Problems and Challenges

In recent years, there has been a notable increase in cases related to environmental pollution, ecological destruction, and disputes over natural resources appearing before the Courts. These cases often require specialized environmental expertise and scientific knowledge to inform judicial decisions effectively.

The existing setup in ordinary Criminal Courts, which handle cases under laws such as the Water Act, the Air Act, and the Environment (Protection) Act, frequently encounters challenges. Cases often languish without reaching conclusion due to heavy caseloads or insufficient understanding of environmental issues among court personnel. Moreover, decisions made by authorities under these environmental laws are frequently contested by industries in court, leading to prolonged legal procedures that can span many years.

During these extended legal battles, interim orders are sometimes issued that hinder the effective implementation of regulatory measures by environmental officers. This procedural delay further complicates efforts to address and mitigate environmental damage promptly.

Given these complexities, there is a growing recognition of the need for specialized Environment Courts equipped with high-level scientific and technical expertise. Such specialized courts would be better equipped to handle complex environmental cases efficiently, ensuring more informed and expedient judicial decisions that prioritize environmental protection and sustainable development.


To enhance enforcement of environmental laws, establishing Environment Courts with one judge and two technical experts in Environmental Science and Ecology is crucial. These courts should adopt summary proceedings for swift case resolution, initially at state and national levels, potentially expanding to district levels as needed. Limiting appeals to discourage prolonged litigation is advisable.

Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has expanded the courts’ jurisdiction, allowing them to direct administrative actions for environmental improvement. However, effective environmental protection requires bottom-up social awareness, not just top-down legislation. To educate the public, the Supreme Court has advocated displaying environmental awareness slides in regional languages at cinemas and on television free of cost. Additionally, environmental studies should become a mandatory subject in schools and colleges to foster widespread awareness.

Ultimately, safeguarding the environment and maintaining ecological balance is a shared responsibility outlined in Article 51-A(g) of the Indian Constitution, applicable to every individual, organization, and corporation.

One Reply to “Challenges Of Convictions Against Environmental Violations”

  1. Wow superb blog layout How long have you been blogging for you make blogging look easy The overall look of your site is magnificent as well as the content

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