Public Trust Doctrine in Indian Environmental Law

Public Trust Doctrine in Indian Environmental Law

in Indian Environmental Law: Key Concepts and Principles
Orient Black Swan

About the Chapter

Ghosh traces the growth and application of the public trust doctrine, and explains why it is difficult to identify how the doctrine could lend predictability to decision-making regarding public trust properties. She explains the contours of the doctrine as inferred from Indian judicial pronouncements – the source of the doctrine, properties that are held in public trust, and principles that are applied by courts while implementing the doctrine.  Rather than insisting on its redundancy, she argues that it is desirable to make the doctrine more relevant, and proposes ways in which it may afford greater protection to natural resources held in trust.

About the Book

For more than three decades now, the Indian courts have delivered far-reaching judgments on a range of significant environmental matters. In their effort to adjudicate complex disputes with serious environmental repercussions, involving the interplay of multiple social, economic and political factors, the courts have developed a framework of environmental rights and legal principles, which now forms an integral part of Indian environmental jurisprudence. The judiciary invokes this framework creatively to identify constitutional, statutory and common law obligations of public and private actors to protect the environment, and to enforce the performance of related duties. There is, however, limited in-depth study of these crucial rights and principles in existing legal literature.

Indian Environmental Law: Key Concepts and Principles fills this gap through its critical analysis of the evolution of this environmental legal framework in India. It studies the origins of environmental rights, substantive and procedural, and the four most significant legal principles— principle of sustainable development, polluter pays principle, precautionary principle and the public trust doctrine—and elaborates how Indian courts have defined, interpreted and applied them across a range of contexts.

As environmental litigation and legal adjudication struggle to respond to worsening environmental quality in the country, conceptual clarity about the content, application and limitations of environmental rights and legal principles is crucial for the improvement of environmental governance. This book explores the judicial reasoning and underlying assumptions in landmark judgments of the Supreme Court, the High Courts and the National Green Tribunal, and aims to provide the reader with a comprehensive understanding of the framework of rights and principles.