The common law definition of “nuisance” provides a basis for judicial action against environmental violations. The Indian Penal Code (1860), the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 (CPC), and the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (CrPC) all have laws pertaining to public disturbance. Section 91 of the CPC allows for the filing of a lawsuit by two or more parties against a public nuisance that impacts or is likely to affect the public. The Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster (Processing of Claims) Act 1985, which the Central Government passed in reaction to the Bhopal Gas Disaster, gave it exclusive jurisdiction to represent victim claims in parens patriae cases. The validity of this legislation was upheld by the Supreme Court in Charan Lal Sahu v Union of India. Public irritation is punishable under the Indian Penal Code. Numerous laws of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) deal with various types of nuisances that pose a risk to public safety. A magistrate may eliminate an environmental public nuisance under section 133 of the CrPC, and they may take prompt action to stop a considerable risk of harm or danger under sections 142 and 144. The Ratlam case from 1980 marks a major turning point in the application of this clause as a practical means of enforcing local body commitments. The issue concerned the local population’s access to drainage infrastructure provided by the municipal authority. The Supreme Court ruled that “decency and dignity are non-negotiable facets of human rights and are a first charge on the local self-governing bodies,” rejecting the council’s claim of financial inability to provide the amenities. Prior to this ruling, the Supreme Court declared in the case of Govind Singh v. Shanti Swaroop, which dealt with a bakery’s smoke-related nuisance, that the public’s health, safety, and convenience are at stake in addition to a private person’s rights.

Crimes pertaining to public health, safety, convenience, decency, and morality are included in the Indian Penal Code of 1860. Public annoyance is covered under Section 268. As stated in Section 277, anyone who willfully taints or pollutes the water in any public spring or reservoir to the point where it is no longer suitable for its intended use faces up to three months in prison, a fine of up to Rs. 500, or both. Under Section 278, anyone who willfully contaminates the air to the point where it is unhealthy for people to live, work, or travel through the area may be subject to a fine that might reach Rs. 500. Sections 284, 285, and 286 deal with negligent conduct with respect to poisonous substances, combustible matter, and explosive substances. Sections 428 and 429 cover mischief with animals.


A person’s right to a pollution-free environment is protected by fundamental legal doctrine. A basic right to life and personal liberty is guaranteed by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The right to a healthy environment is encompassed by the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the rights to life and personal liberty. The Court has declared in a number of rulings that the right to a clean environment, clean drinking water, and a pollution-free atmosphere are all part of the mandate of the right to life.

According to the “polluter pays principle,” businesses that produce pollution should bear the financial burden of mitigating any harm caused by pollution or providing treatment. The Apex Court construed the polluter pays doctrine, which has been acknowledged as a valid principle, to indicate that in addition to compensating pollution victims and restoring the environment, absolute accountability for damages also raises costs. As part of the process of sustainable development, the polluter is responsible for both the cost of repairing the environmental harm and the costs associated with compensating the individual victims.


Environmental pollution incidents have never been reported in India before. In this instance, waste liquid from the defendant’s nearby factory was allegedly dumped into a municipal sewer that crossed the plaintiff’s lawn, leading to legal action from the plaintiff. In addition to damaging his health and comfort as well as the market value of his garden property, he said the liquid had an unpleasant smell and was bad for the health of the people living close by, including himself. While acknowledging that his liquid waste had an unpleasant odor, the defendant refuted claims that it was dangerous or would harm the plaintiff’s belongings. He said that the government had granted his plant a license to produce lawfully. The Calcutta High Court later heard an appeal of the ruling.

The defendant is responsible for the injury caused and did not have the authority to release any form of liquid into the municipal drain, according to the High Court, which dismissed the aforementioned argument. The plaintiff has truly suffered harm as a result of these acts. He is entitled to significant damages.


In India, the protection of the environment has not only become a fundamental law of the land, but it has also been linked with the human rights approach, and it is now widely acknowledged that each and every person has the fundamental human right to live in a pollution-free environment with complete human dignity.

The public, state, and federal governments and public entities ought to acknowledge the harm that our developmental process has caused to the environment before it is too late. Developing a sense of civic consciousness and public hygiene in the use of municipal services like roads, public areas, drainage, etc., is crucial for the success of local government regulations pertaining to the environment. It is also necessary to enforce the law’s requirements strictly. The law is a powerful tool for forcing people to follow cleanliness regulations and, therefore, reduce pollution. In light of contemporary circumstances, India’s environmental protection regulations require a revision.


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