Name of the Case
Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra & Others v State of Uttar Pradesh
AIR 1985 S.C. 652, 1985 SCR (3) 169
Year of the Case
Rural Litigation & Entitlement Kendra
State of Uttar Pradesh
Justice P.N. Bhagwati
Justice Amerendra Nath
Justice Rangnath Mishra
Constitution of India, Article 32 and 48A, The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, Central Act No. 69, Acts of Parliament, 1980, The Mines Act, 1952.
This judgment is associated with a previous sentence by the Supreme Court in a similar context. The Apex Court had recognized a writ petition from Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra concerning the illicit and unauthorized working of limestone mining in the Mussoorie Hill radius, India. It said that the quarries initiated a peril to a thriving environment and affected the eternal water springs. During the unresolved of the Writ Petitions, the Bench had assigned a committee to analyze the limestone quarries expressed in the Writ Petitions. The Government had also appointed a working batch on the excavation of limestone quarries in the Dehradun-Mussoorie region. On 12th March 1985, the Apex Court consented to a comprehensive order giving several directions and discovering that the particulars of the decision would be embarked in the verdict to trail later. In this decision, although, the court opined that it was not crucial to give any additional reasons which had already been presumed in the decision held by the Bench on 12th March 1985 as the broad grounds had been adequately embarked in that direction.
Facts of the Case
Doon Valley is a division of the Mussoorie hill strings of The Himalayas. The Doon valley region was very prosperous. Various rivers have their origin in Mussoorie hills which made the valley zone ecologically flourish. However, it set off a district for limestone mining and the valley started degrading due to the operation of fulminating, cutting trees, and utmost mining in the 1950s. Limestone mining actions in the Doon valley increased between 1955 and 1965. The action of exploding, for the extraction of minerals, led to a lack of vegetation in the valley. In the 1980s, the valley saw its natural beauty vanishing and experienced floods, high temperatures, landslides, water scarcity, and cropland obliteration.
The State minister of Mines of Uttar Pradesh prohibited mining industries in 1961. However, in 1962, the state government held numerous mining and excavation leases for 20 years and hollowing was happening again. When leases approached for resurrection in 1982, the state prohibited them on the account of ecological destruction. Mining companies expanded despite the decision of the government. Allahabad High Court authorized mining in the Doon valley, evaluating economic benefit over ecological elements. In 1983, a local NGO of Dehradun and RLEK, sent a complaint letter against environmental poverty to the Apex Court. The Supreme Court recorded this complaint under Article 32 as a writ petition. The Court directed the gauging of all current mining actions in the valley. The court also concentrated on the state government-initiated database for the cultivation of the zone.
1. Whether the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 will be licit in the process of recommencement of leases or not? The leases were resolved to mining industries in 1962 and the Forest Conservation Act was sanctioned in 1980.
2. Whether the mining operations in government forests violated the Forest Conservation Act? The Act prohibited those non-forest operations in forest areas, which do not have the assistance of the central government.
3. Whether environmental conservation should be given priority over the economic help of the country?
Contentions of the Petitioner
1. Environmental demolition in Doon Valley leads to obstruction in the living of citizens, which interrupts their fundamental right to a healthy environment. The right to a healthy environment is under Article 21 of the Constitution, a portion of the Right to Life.
2. Refusal of lease restoration by the public abolished the state’s consent for mining.
3. Forests come under a concurrent list, so authorization of the central government should also be mandatory for mining operations.
Contentions of the Respondent
The Respondents resisted that-
1. The troubling matters should not be evident by the Apex Court, but the administrative constructions of the state under the Environment Protection Act. It should be the affairs of the state’s officials.
2. Respondents asserted that all techniques of mining and quarrying were being moved out by the provisos of the Mines Act of 1952.
3. Mining activities should not be terminated because they are vital in the affairs of the country and the protection of the foreign exchange position of the country.
4. The termination of mines will lead to the redundancy of mine labour.
The Central Government had been anxious about the perilous mining activities in the Valley at the aforesaid time when the Apex Court obtained the affair. In 1983, in the Dehradun Valley Litigation file, the Government of India assigned a Working Group to analyze the limestone investigation in the Dehradun-Mussoorie region. D.N. Bhargava, governed both the government’s Working Group and the committee of the court came to aligned conclusions as to the destructive effect of the mines on the surroundings. The Working Group also laid reviews for the court on the restricted mining activities, which were authorized to abide open. In 1986, during the litigation, Parliament sanctioned the Environment Protection Act. Subsequently, the Valley was selected as an organically exquisite portion beneath the Environment Protection Act. Also, the Central Government elected a Doon Valley Board, under the chairmanship of the Minister for Environment, which was entrusted with protecting and restoring contaminated zones of the Valley.
The Supreme Court held that mining in reserved forests in the Dehradun valley violated the Forest Conservation Act. The Forest Conservation Act only prohibited non-forest operations in forest areas that do not have the authorization of the Central Government. Furthermore, regarding ecological integrity and national benefits, the Apex Court was also anxious about the welfare of mine workers and labourers left unpaid by the Dehradun Valley activities. The Court delivered the following:
Mine lessees whose activities were wound-up by the court would be stated as a preference for leases in the new region open to mining. That the eco-task force of the central government, retrieve and reforest the zone vandalized by excavation and that the workers unsettled by mine closure be given preference for jobs with the Eco-Task Force activities in the region.
The Constitution of India guarantees the privilege of a healthy environment as a fundamental right under Article 21. Industrialization leads to evolution which additionally leads to the deprivation of the environment. The theory of sustainable development has developed over the years that there must be a balance between evolution and ecology. Environmental dishonoring is not right on the pretext of national benefit. According to the socio-economic desires of the nation, administrative and legislative policies for compatible environmental and evolution principles should be intimated. Courts play a very important role in directing the extent of the powers and motives of administrative operations and in evident stability between the environment and evolution.
The necessity of the hour is to maintain an equilibrium between the two. Therefore, the evolution on one edge and pollution permitted environment on the other. The main emphasis should be on the evolution of sustainable living and environmental needs. However, sustainable development is the only way out and administrative measures must follow in accordance therewith.
- The Mines Act, 1952, No. 35, Acts of Parliament, (1992).
- The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, No. 29, Acts of Parliament, (1986).
- Indian Constitution, art 21.
This article is written by Ashmita Dhumas, who has completed BA LLB from Agra College and is doing a diploma in
Corporate Law from Enhelion.