The Role Of Judiciary And Sustainable Development : Public Interest Environmental Litigation

The Role Of Judiciary And Sustainable Development : Public Interest Environmental Litigation

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Environmental law is a fairly recent area of study and has evolved mostly over the last half century or so. One aspect of environmental law becoming increasingly important is the law relating to sustainable development; however it has not been deeply explored in judicial decisions. Law and policy making bodies, in the national and international arena, have accepted the principles of sustainable development, however they have been reluctant to explain them or mention defined details of the situations of their application and implementation. Therefore, it becomes the task of the judiciary, within their countries, to explicate the law of sustainable development on a case by case basis.
This led to the evolution of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the mid-1980s, as a means of combatting the problems faced by countries. PIL can take different forms, such as representative standing, where a person or organization may come forward to raise the issues of the poor or underprivileged people; also citizen standing, where any person can bring a suit as a concerned member of the citizenry. This enlightened approach to environmental issues and causes is embodied by courts in South Asian countries, specifically India and Pakistan.
Many scholars have stated that the South Asian judiciary is at the forefront in this quest to guarantee the legal protection of sustainable development. This work is not only limited to the area of substantive rights, they are also focused on removing the procedural constraints that could prevent ordinary people from accessing the courts. The two trademarks of this judicial method are therefore; a sensitivity to envir...

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...ished that where a legal wrong or a legal injury is caused to a person or to a determinate class of persons by reason of violation of any constitutional or legal right or any burden is imposed in contravention of any constitutional or legal provision or without authority of law…and such person or determinate class of persons is by reason of poverty, helplessness or disability or socially or economically disadvantaged position, unable to approach the Court of relief, any member of the public can maintain an application for an appropriate direction, order or writ…”
Environmentalist groups jumped at this opportunity to utilize the relaxation of rules regarding standing and procedure. This led to a strong case law on the precautionary principle; the polluter pays principle, intergenerational equity and the absorption of international treaties within Indian domestic law.

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