Apply polluter pays principle to U.S.: CJI

It is easy to pin accusations of environment degradation and climate change on emerging economies like India, while advanced nations like the United States have been emitting carbon 10 times more than India for the past 200 years, Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur said on Saturday.

Speaking at a symposium on international law here, he said the entire human race was affected by the excesses of industrialised nations like the U.S. “The depletion of the ozone layer, affecting the entire human race, is not because India is emerging or because we are dependent on coal or because of our thermal plants, which have come under criticism from environmental activists from within the country and outside,” he said.

Chief Justice Thakur said an international framework should be evolved to apply the polluter pays principle to advanced economies like the U.S.

“In Kyoto, a resolution was passed, and they decided that developed economies should reduce their emissions by at least one per cent. The U.S. refused. Environmental degradation is because of the emissions from industrialised countries,” he reiterated.

He was speaking in the context of how international law should not be treated merely for furthering global trade and commerce but its sweep should factor in the formidable issues of environment and climate change which are threatening the entire human race irrespective of nations and boundaries.

“India is also affected if environment is harmed in Pakistan or Bangladesh and vice-versa. So an international law based on comity of nations taking into consideration the humanity living in both industrialised and non-industrialised nations should be framed,” Chief Justice Thakur said.

“Or, as they say, the next World War will be over river waters,” he concluded.

It was a Supreme Court Bench led by Chief Justice Thakur that revived a 30-year-old PIL filed by activist lawyer M.C. Mehta to rid river Ganga of pollution, even asking the government if there was any chance of cleaning up the 2,500 km long holy river during its current term in power.

Chief Justice Thakur is also monitoring the Supreme Court ban on luxury diesel vehicles and SUVs with over 2000CC capacity in the National Capital .

Brushing aside objections raised by car manufacturers against the ban, the Supreme Bench had observed that it is a “few rich” who use these cars which have become a threat to the life and health of the larger public.This order also breaks a historic barrier by making citizens, albeit affluent ones, accountable for the suffering of their less-advantaged fellow citizens.

Usually the constitutional courts use their powers under Articles 32 and 226 to direct the State to perform its duties. But here, the apex court has also made the citizen liable to the citizen.

Under Fundamental Duties enshrined in Article 51A (g) of the Constitution, every citizen has a duty to “protect and improve the environment”.

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 2:58:25 PM |

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