The LexGaze Weekly - STALWARTS

Advocate M. C. Mehta

Yamika Khanna

Issue 7 | August 1, 2020

The most popular name that is concerned with the unraveling and development of environmental jurisprudence in Indian context is that of M.C Mehta. M.C Mehta is often recognised as the backbone of environmental law in India and the one who is an unparalleled inspiration for legal students and professionals with regard to serving humanity through the recourse of law and policy.

The eye opening incident of fire in river Ganges emerged as a path breaking development in recognising the duties and rights towards the environment. This particular incident motivated M.C Mehta to lead the legal battle of environmental rights and climate change.M.C Mehta in an interview asserted “It was astonishing. So, I went to Haridwar to find out how water can catch fire. This is the only national river in the country and if it cannot be cleaned, how can we claim to be a mighty nation. We can reach Mars and the Moon but cannot clean the Ganga?"

M.C Mehta filed a petition in the Supreme Court of India in 1985 against these two polluting factories surrounding river Ganges. The court has directed more than 5,000 factories to install air and water pollution control devices and ordered factories to close until they install pollution control devices and meet prescribed standards.

M.C Mehta highlighted the impact of climate change by stating "Look at the Taj Mahal and the change in its colour due to pollution. Of course, it already is having an impact and is going to have some heavy impact on the rich cultural heritage of India. The central and the state governments should look into that otherwise we will be losing precious historical things. The ministry of cultural affairs should have a special cell to monitor the monuments and other cultural heritage sites regarding the changes that are happening there. The information should be made public so that people know what is going on and what steps can be taken to prevent such impacts."

M.C Mehta has been and is still the most prominent and change making voice with regard to climate change and environmental jurisprudence. His endless battle led to judiciary recognising right to clean environment as an integral part of right to life, absolute liability, public trust doctrine.

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