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Report No. 186

Constitutional provisions:

The Indian Constitution contains several provisions which require the State and the citizens to protect environment. Though in the Constitution as it stood on 26.1.1950, there was no specific provision for environmental protection, there were other significant provisions. The following provisions in the Constitution as it originally stood, have a bearing on environment:

"Article 21: Protection of life and personal liberty: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

Article 42: Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief: The State shall make provisions for security just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.

Article 47 : Duty of the State to raise the level of nutritional and the standard of living and to improve public health: The State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.

Article 49: Protection of monuments and places and objects of national importance: It shall be the obligation of the State to protect every monument or place or object of artistic or historic interest, declared by or under law made by Parliament, to be of national importance, from spoliation, disfigurement, destruction, removal, disposal or export, as the case may be."

The Stockholm Declaration of 1972, however, resulted in several amendments to the Constitution. Under the Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976 (which came into force on 3.1.1977), Article 48A was 24introduced in Part IV which is the chapter dealing with Directive Principles. It read as follows:

"Article 48A. Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wild-life: The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wild life of the country."

Article 51A(g) was brought into Part IVA of the Constitution which deals with 'Fundamental Duties'. That Article reads as follows:

"Article 51A: Fundamental Duties: It shall be the duty of every citizen of Indi.-

(a) to (f): ............

(g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures."

Under the same Forty-Second Amendment, Forest and protection of wild animals and birds were brought into the Concurrent List as entries 17A and 17B.

Proposal to Constitute Environment Courts Back

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