Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra Dehradun & Others v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Others

In the Supreme Court of India  
Name of the CaseRural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra & Others vs State of Uttar Pradesh
CitationAIR 1985 S.C. 652, 1985 SCR (3) 169
Year of the Case1985
AppellantRural Litigation vs Entitlement Kendra
RespondentState of Uttar Pradesh
Bench / JudgesJustice P.N. Bhagwati, Justice Amerendra Nath Justice Rangnath Mishra
Acts InvolvedConstitution of India, Article 32 and 48A, THE FOREST (CONSERVATION) ACT, 1980, Central Act No. 69, Acts of Parliament, 1980, The Mines Act, 1952,  
Important SectionArticle 32 and 48A of the constitution

This verdict is related to previous decisions by the Supreme Court in the same substance. The Supreme Court had acknowledged a writ petition from Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra regarding the unlawful and illegal operation of lime-stone excavations in the Mussoorie Hill range, India. It was contended that the quarries instigated a hazard to a healthy environment and exaggerated the perennial water springs.

During the pendency of the Writ Petitions, the Court had allotted a Committee to review the limestone quarries stated in the Writ Petitions. The Government of India had also selected a working Group on the mining of limestone quarries in the Dehradun-Mussoorie zone.

On 12th March 1985, the Court approved a detailed order giving numerous directions and detecting that the details for the order would be set out in the judgment to trail later. In this decision, however, the court thought that it was not essential to give any further reasons than those which had already been assumed in the order made by the Court on 12th March 1985 because the broad reasons had been sufficiently set out in that direction.

Introduction

Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) is a non-governmental group with its work base located in the state of Uttarakhand. Its office is situated in Dehradun, the capital of Uttrakhand. It advanced as a result of years of fight against carnages meted out to underprivileged and marginalized communities.

RLEK has struggled in the courts of justice for societies as well as people. Some of the results given by the courts in these cases required the Government to pass new acts. The Kendra is functioning obstinately to bring about a countrywide experience to the widespread desecration of fundamental rights. RLEK enterprises have led to the broadcasting of the Bonded Labor Abolition Act, 1976. Narcotics and Psychotropic Constituents (NDPS) Act, 1988.Environment Protection Act, 1986.

Facts of the Case

  • Doon Valley is a part of the Mussoorie hill series of The Himalayas. The Doon valley area was very rich. Several rivers have their beginning from Mussoorie hills which completed the valley region ecologically thrive. But it became a district for limestone mining and the valley started degrading due to the use of exploding, cutting trees, and extreme mining in the 1950s.
  • Limestone mining processes in the Doon valley became spread-out between 1955 and 1965. The Use of detonating, for the removal of minerals, resulted in a lack of vegetation in the valley. By the early 1980s, the valley misplaced its natural beauty and became disposed of landslides, floods, water scarcity, high temperatures, and cropland obliteration.
  • In 1961, the Uttar Pradesh State minister of Mines banned mining industries in the state. But in 1962, the state government decided various mining leases for 20 years and quarrying was happening again. When leases came for regeneration in 1982, the state forbade them on the ground of ecological devastation. Mining companies extended the high court against this verdict of the government. Allahabad high court permitted mining in the Doon valley, considering economic profit over ecological factors.[i]
  • In 1983, a local NGO of Dehradun Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK), directed a complaint letter of India against environmental poverty to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court registered this complaint as a writ petition under Article 32 of the Indian constitution.[ii] The Supreme Court ordered an assessment of all current mining operations in the valley. The court also focused on the state government to start a database for the cultivation of the region.

Issues

The issues considered by the Hon’ble Supreme court, in this particular case, were as follows:

  1. Whether the forest conservation act, 1980[iii] would be valid in the renewal procedure of leases or not? Leases were settled to mining operators in 1962 and a forest conservation act was approved in 1980.
  2. Whether the mining actions on government forests desecrated the forest conservation act? The act forbids those non- forest activities on forest land, which do not have the support of the central government.
  3. Whether environmental conservation should be agreed priority over the economic assistance of the nation?

Contentions of the Petitioner

The petitioners resisted that-

  1. Environmental destruction in Doon Valley would lead to impediments in the living of local citizens, which disrupts their fundamental right to a nutritious environment. The right to Wholesome Environment is under article 21 of the Indian constitution a part of the Right to Life.
  2. Rejection of lease restitution by the public withdrew the state’s consent for mining.
  3. Forests come under a coexisting list, so sanction of the central government should also be compulsory for mining activities.

Contentions of the Respondent

The Respondents resisted that-

  1. The disturbing issue should not be obvious by the Supreme Court, but the administrative establishments of the state under the Environment Protection Act. It should be a matter of the state’s authority whether
  2. Respondents contended that all procedures of mining and quarrying were being passed out by the provisions of the Mines act of 1952.
  3. Mining operations should not be ended because they are essential in the interest of the country and defenses the foreign exchange location of the nation.
  4. The ceasing of mines will lead to redundancy of mine workers and laborers.

Observations

  1. The case was trailed in Supreme Court in 1983 and case proceedings were happening from then. In 1980, when the case was still running in the court, the parliament approved the Environment Protection Act. The respondent council specified that as the new act agreements with the condition at issue, the court should discharge the case. The court should leave the matter to the controlling authority under the EPA act. The court disallowed the argument on the foundation that litigation had already begun before the depiction of law and important testaments, evidence, and other orders had been delivered already.
  1. Respondents contended that mining operations were being passed out in harmony with the mining act, 1952, and other relevant trials. To detect the details, the court selected the Bhargava committee. On the commendation of the Bhargava committee, the court ordered the cease operations of most unsafe mines falling in Mussoorie City. Then in 1985, the court allotted the second committee (the Bandyopadhyay Committee), to review the report of the earlier committee. This committee also suggested the aid for exaggerated residents of the valley. The court permitted some mining operators to work in the valley after studying environmental poverty from them. A major operation, possessed by the state of Uttar Pradesh, could also continue open because the environmental harm was less clear.

Judgment 

The Central Government had become worried about the critical mining operations in the Valley at the same time when the Supreme Court acquired the issue. In 1983 In the Dehradun Valley Litigation case, the Government of India allotted a Working Group to review the limestone inquiries in the Dehradun-Mussoorie zone. The same individual, D.N. Bhargava, ruled both the government’s Working Group and the court’s committee came to parallel conclusions as to the damaging effect of the mines on the environment. The Working Group also set reports for the court on the limited mining operations, which were permitted to remain open. During the litigation, in 1986, Parliament ratified the Environment Protection Act.

After this, the Valley was elected as an organically delicate part under the Environment Protection Act. Also, the center selected a Doon Valley Board, under the chairmanship of the Minister for Environment and Forests was charged with preserving and restoring tainted areas of the Valley. The Supreme Court decided that mining in earmarked forests in the Dehradun valley desecrated the Forest Conservation Act. However, the Forest Conservation Act only forbids non-forest activities on forest lands that do not have the approval of the Central Government. In addition to ecological honesty and national interests, the Supreme Court was also worried about the well-being of mine operators and laborers left unwaged by end of the Dehradun Valley operations.[iv]

The Court issued the following directions:

  1. Orders that mine lessees whose operations were terminated by the court would be given priority for leases in new areas open to limestone mining.
    1. Orders that the Eco-Task Force of the central department of Environment reclaim and reforest the area damaged by mining and that workers displaced by mine closure be given priority for jobs with the Eco-Task Force operations in the region.

Concepts Highlighted 

The Constitution of India assurances the Right to a wholesome environment as a fundamental right under Article 21. Mechanization leads to development which further leads to the poverty of the environment. To resolution, this issue, the doctrine of maintainable development has come up. i.e., there must be stability between development and ecology. Environmental degradation is not right on the stake of national interest. According to the socio-economic wants of the country, administrative and legislative policies for consistent environmental and developmental values should be expressed.

Courts play a very vital role in determining the scope of the powers and purposes of administrative activities and in striking stability between the environment and development. The need of the hour is to strike a balance between the two i.e., development on one side and pollution allowed environment on the other.

A procedure by which development can be continued for groups by improving the superiority of human life while at the same time living in harmony with nature and maintaining the carrying volume of life secondary eco-system. Its main focus is the addition of developmental and environmental necessities. Thus, sustainable development is the only response and administrative actions must ensue in accordance therewith.

References

  1. The Mines Act, 1952, No. 35, Acts of Parliament, (1992).
  2. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, No. 29, Acts of Parliament, (1986).
  3. INDIA CONST. art. 21.
  4. https://indiankanoon.org/

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