Sustainable development is an integral part of fundamental rights conferred on citizens by the Constitution and cannot be allowed to be hampered by environmental degradation, the Supreme Court has said.

“Inter-generational equity and sustainable development have come to be firmly embedded in our constitutional jurisprudence as an integral part of the fundamental rights conferred by Article 21(Right to Life) of the Constitution. In enforcing such rights of a large number of citizens who are bound to be adversely affected by environmental degradation, this Court cannot be constrained by the restraints of procedure,” the apex court has said.

A bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam said damage caused to environment due to illegal mining in Karnataka has shocked “judicial conscience” and long arm of the law is to be demonstrated in such cases.

“The satellite imageries placed before the court with regard to environmental damage and destruction has shocked judicial conscience,” the bench said while referring to illegal mining in the state.

“Illegal mining apart from playing havoc on the national economy had, in fact, cast an ominous cloud on the credibility of the system of governance by laws in force. It has had a chilling and crippling effect on ecology and environment,” it said.