The Right To Safe Environment

  • Mansi Tiwari
  • Shri Vaishnav Vidyapeeth Vishwavidyalaya


The Right to Safe Environment includes safe water to drink, safe air to breathe, safe place to live and safe sound to hear is a fundamental right of every citizen of India under Article 21 of the Constitution, which provides Right to Life. The Article 21 is the basic fundamental right of every citizen and every citizen has the right to knock the doors of the High Court or Supreme Court, when their right is infringed. Article 21 is wide enough have all-environmental rights in its ambit. There are many incidences when the right To Safe Environment is infringes and the respective High Court and Supreme Court, from time to time acknowledge this right and issued directions for the same.

             In the case of Vellore Citizen Welfare vs. Union of India (AIR1996) 5 SCC 647. The petitioner, Citizen’s Welfare Forum filed a writ petition in the form of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) for the pollution caused by the Tamil Nadu industries which discharge its untreated effluent into the agricultural fields, open land, waterways etc., by which the water and air get pollutes and it also reduce the fertility of the soil of such land.

               The Supreme Court while recognizing the right to safe environment held that, there is a need for an hour to balance between both the development and the degradation of the environment for it. Indeed, the industries plays a vital role in the development of the country but it does not have to come from the cost of the people’s health and degradation of the environment. The Court said that “Precautionary Principle” and the ‘Polluters Pay Principle” are the backbone of “Sustainable Development” and it should be made to the polluter to pay the cost of such hazard to the public as well as to the environment.

           The same held in the case of the M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India (AIR 1987) 4 SCC 463, in which Public Interest Litigation was filed by M.C. Mehta, one of the most profound men working for the people. He filed the petition for the closure of tanneries at Jajmau near Kanpur, polluting the river, Ganga. The court ordered the closure of the tanneries polluting the water off holy Ganga and also remanded the Sate Government and relevant authorities for not taking proper measure. 

The court held that the Government also plays a very important role in keeping the eye on the industries, factories and other polluting premises and to take measure accordingly to prevent the pollution, because the government has the power and also the responsibility to keep balance between development and safe environment.


Hence, it can be concluded that the, Court plays a very important role in ensuring the safe environment to every citizen and from time to time held that the every citizen has a right to raise their voice against such discrimination and hazardous environment, and the corresponding authorities should also be made liable for their act, if they have not acted according to their responsibilities.

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