Climate justice critical, say senior judges

“In Chhattisgarh, land is taken away from tribals and they do not get a pittance in return,” said Justice Deepak Gupta of the Supreme Court during his address at the launch of a law programme to be jointly conducted by the World Wide Fund for Nature-India and the OP Jindal Global University.

Justice Gupta’s comments are significant in the light of large tracts of pristine forest in the State — once inviolate — being opened up to coal mining by private companies. “The countryside is ravaged and pillaged… we must stop to consider, at what cost is development being pursued,” he said.

‘Multiple crises’

His comments followed a lecture by fellow Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, who said that India, along with the rest of the world, was facing multiple crises on the environmental front.

The Himalayan glaciers are under threat, the air quality in Delhi has plummeted to toxic levels and climate change is a problem that cuts across race, gender and socio-economic status, he said.

The judiciary, Justice Chandrachud said, had to play a key role in ensuring that the needs of development were balanced with that of climate justice. “Before projects are planned, the opinion of affected communities had to be taken and the decisions of judges should be intelligible to ordinary people,” he added.

Justice Chandrachud said that India’s Constitution had several clauses built into it to enable environmental protection but that the judiciary itself had to introspect on its own carbon footprint. “We are moving to greater levels of electronic filing of cases and reducing our paper load… while we need more infrastructure to address the nearly 30 million outstanding cases, we have to consider their carbon footprint,” he said.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2020 4:05:25 AM |

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