National Law Schoool of India  [Printer-friendly version]
July 12, 2002


[Rachel's introduction: "Another new norm of international
environment law is the precautionary principle. This is basically a
duty to foresee and assess environmental risks, to warn potential
victims of such risks and to behave in ways that prevent or mitigate
such risks."]

By Shyam Divan


In international law, a distinction is often made between hard and
soft law. Hard international law generally refers to agreements or
principles that are directly enforceable by a national or
international body. Soft international law refers to agreements or
principles that are meant to influence individual nations to respect
certain norms or incorporate them into national law. Although these
agreements sometimes oblige countries to adopt implementing
legislation, they are not usually enforceable on their own in a court.

If a treaty or convention does not specify an international forum that
has subject matter jurisdiction, often the only place to bring a suit
with respect to that treaty is in the member state's domestic court
system. This presents at least two additional hurdles. If the member
state being sued does not have domestic implementing legislation in
place to hear the dispute, there will be no forum available. Even in
the event that the domestic legislation provides for such suits, since
the judges who decide the case are residents of the country against
which it is brought, potential conflicts of interest arise.

Only nations are bound by treaties and conventions. In international
forums, such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ), countries
must consent to being sued. Thus, it is often impossible to sue a
country. The final question in the jurisdictional arena is who may
bring a suit. Often, only countries may sue countries. Individual
citizens and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) cannot. This has
huge repercussions. First, the environmental harm must be large and
notorious for a country to notice. Second, for a country to have a
stake in the outcome of the subject matter, some harm may have to
cross the borders of the violating country into the country that is
suing. Finally, even if transboundary harm does exist, the issue of
causation, especially in the environmental field, is often impossible
to prove with any certainty.

The enforcement issue is one where advocates for a safer environment
often find themselves stymied. Even if a treaty or convention provides
for specific substantive measures to be taken by a country (many
treaties merely provide 'frameworks'), specifies a forum for dispute
resolution and authorizes sanctions for non-compliance, international
law remains largely unenforceable. A country cannot be forced to do
what it is not willing to do. One can sanction the country, order
damages, restrict trade, or, most frequently, publicize non-
compliance. But beyond that, if a country will not comply, there is
very little to be done.

International institutions are generally not responsible for directly
implementing and enforcing international environmental law, but they
often play important monitoring, informational and diplomatic roles.
For example, the 1992 Convention on the Conservation of Biological
Diversity (Biodiversity Convention)(1) created a new international
body, the Committee on Sustainable Development (CSD). The CSD lacks
the power to bring enforcement actions against either governments or
private parties, but it plays a role in implementing the Biodiversity
Convention. The CSD helps monitor national compliance efforts by
requiring member nations to submit annual reports. Through its
meetings and publications, the CSD also provides a forum to discuss
and debate issues associated with global protection of biological
diversity and forests.


Consider for a moment why any law is enacted -- domestically or
internationally. Some would maintain that it is a moral statement
about behaviour that a society cannot tolerate. Some would argue that
certain conduct is outlawed to deter that conduct, which is why we
also attach a penalty. Some would argue, especially in light of the
inefficiencies in enforcement, that laws socialize society's members
to behave in a certain way by defining a code.

What is the purpose of international environmental law -- is it a
moral statement, a deterrence, or a socializing tool? If it is a moral
statement, which many of the framework conventions seem to be, is it
merely aspirational? Do we honestly believe that all nations will
achieve all the ideals expressed in all the agreements? Or do we, as a
global community, simply like to think of ourselves as the kind of
people who believe in these things? If it is intended as deterrence,
why are there not more international forums for dispute resolution,
more international bodies empowered to enforce agreements, more
substantive requirements, and more 'hard law' self-executing
agreements? If there were, would any nation sign them? If it is
intended as a socialization technique, is it working? Are nations more
environmentally aware?

If ultimately all international environmental law is unenforceable,
what good is it? Does it accomplish anything to find a country out of
compliance with a treaty? What about publicity? What if the economic
benefits of a project such as the Narmada Valley Project, are believed
by government officials to outweigh the negative effects of the

The practice of relying on domestic implementing legislation to
enforce international environmental agreements leave state parties in
the position of having different obligations under the same treaty,
depending on how their legislative, executive and judicial bodies
interpret and implement the treaty. Is this fair? What about the costs
and administrative burdens that are associated with creating and
enforcing legislation? Does this put richer countries in a better
position to comply with treaties?

What is the purpose of the informational roles of international
institutions? Will more knowledge about the global environment and our
impacts on it lead to better compliance? Or will so many new issues
lead to non-compliance due to uncertainty? If it appears to the
average citizen that virtually everything she does has a negative
environmental impact, will she not cease to try to change any


India has obligations under numerous international treaties and
agreements that relate to environmental issues. As a contracting
party, India must have ratified a treaty, that is, by adopting it as
national law before it came into force, or by acceding to it after it
has come into force. For a treaty to enter into force, the requisite
number of countries must ratify the treaty, which then has the force
of international law.

Specific obligations under any treaty vary, depending on the treaty
itself. The nature and degree of compliance and implementation depend
on a number of factors, among them: (1) the capabilities and staff of
an international institution charged with coordinating national
compliance efforts, if there is one; (2) the willingness of other
state parties to enforce or comply with the treaty; (3) the political
agenda of the government and popular support; (4) trade and diplomatic
pressures brought to bear by other countries; and (5) sometimes,
judicial or NGO involvement through court cases and publicity.


1. The Antarctic Treaty (Washington, 1959) 402 UNTS 71. Entered into
force 23 June 1961. India ratified with qualifications, 19 August

2. Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, Especially as
Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar, 1971). 11 I.L.M. 963 (1972). Entered into
force 21 December 1975. India acceeded, October 1, 1981.

3. Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and
Natural Heritage (Paris, 1972). 11 I.L.M. 1358 (1972). Entered into
force 17 December 1975. India signed, 16 November 1972.

4. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild
Fauna and Flora (Washington, 1973) 12 I.L.M. 1055 (1973). Entered into
force 1 July 1975. India signed, 9 July 9 1974; ratified 20 July 1976.

5. Protocol of 1978 Relating to the International Convention for the
Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 (MARPOL) (London, 1978).
Entered into force 2 October 1983. India ratified with qualifications,
24 September 1986.

6. Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals
(Bonn, 1979) 19 I.L.M. 15 (1980). Entered into force 1 November 1983.
India signed, 23 June 1979; ratified 4 May 1982.

7. Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources
(Canberra, 1980). 19 I.L.M. 841 (1980). Entered into force 7 April
1982. India ratified, 17 June 1985.

8. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Montego Bay,
1982). 21 I.L.M. 1261 (1982). Entered into force 16 November 1994.
India signed, 10 December 1982.

9. Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (Vienna, 1985). 26
I.L.M. 1529 (1987). Entered into force 22 September 1988. India
ratified, 18 March 1991.

10. Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer (Montreal,
1987). 26 I.L.M. 1550 (1987). Entered into force 1 January 1989. India
acceded, 19 June 1992.

11. Amendments to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the
Ozone Layer (London, 1990). 30 I.L.M. 541 (1991). Entered into force
10 August 1992. India acceded, 19 June 1992.

12. Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous
Wastes and Their Disposal (Basel, 1989). 28 I.L.M. 657 (1989). Entered
into force 5 May 1992. India signed, 5 March 1990; ratified 24 June

13. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Rio de
Janeiro, 1992). 31 I.L.M. 849 (1992). Entered into force 21 March
1994. India signed, 10 June 1992; ratified 1 November 1993.

14. Convention on Biological Diversity (Rio de Janeiro, 1992). 31
I.L.M. 818 (1992). Entered into force 29 December 1993. India signed,
5 June 1992; ratified 18 February 1994.

15. Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries
Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in
Africa (Paris, 1994). 33 I.L.M 1332 (1994). Entered into force, 26
December 1995; India signed, 14 October 1994; ratified 17 December

16. International Tropical Timber Agreement (Geneva, 1994). 33 I.L.M.
1016 (1994). Entered into force 1 January 1997. India signed, 17
September 1996. India ratified 17 October 1996.

17. Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctica Treaty
(Madrid, 1991). Entered into force 15 January 1998.


Norms are general legal principles that are widely accepted. This
acceptance is evidenced in a number of ways, such as international
agreements, national legislation, domestic and international judicial
decisions, and scholarly writings. The leading norms in the field of
international environmental law are addressed below:

(1) Foremost among these norms is Principle 21 of the 1972 Stockholm
Declaration on the Human Environment. Principle 21 maintains that
'States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and
the principles of international law, the sovereign right to exploit
their own resources pursuant to their own environmental policies, and
the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction
or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or
of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction".(2)

(2) Another widely shared norm is the duty of a state to notify and
consult with other states when it undertakes an operation that is
likely to harm neighbouring countries' environments, such as the
construction of a power plant, which may impair air or water quality
in downwind or downstream states.

(3) Over and above the duty to notify and consult, a relatively new
norm has emerged whereby states are expected to monitor and assess
specific environmental conditions domestically, and disclose these
conditions in a report to an international agency or international
executive body created by an international agreement, and authorised
by the parties to the agreement to collect and publicize such

(4) Another emerging norm is the guarantee in the domestic
constitutions, laws or executive pronouncements of several states,
including India,(3) Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and the
Philippines, that all citizens have a right to a decent and healthful
environment. In the United States, this fundamental right has been
guaranteed by a handful of states but not by the federal government.

(5) Most industrialized countries subscribe to the polluter pays
principle. This means polluters should internalise the costs of their
pollution, control it at its source, and pay for its effects,
including remedial or cleanup costs, rather than forcing other states
or future generations to bear such costs. This principle has been
recognized by the Indian Supreme Court as a 'universal' rule to be
applied to domestic polluters as well.(4) Moreover, it has been
accepted as a fundamental objective of government policy to abate

(6) Another new norm of international environment law is the
precautionary principle. This is basically a duty to foresee and
assess environmental risks, to warn potential victims of such risks
and to behave in ways that prevent or mitigate such risks. In the
context of municipal law, Justice Kuldip Singh of the Supreme Court
has explained the meaning of this principle in the Vellore Citizens'
Welfare Forum Case,(6) which is excerpted later in this section.

(7) Environmental impact assessment is another widely accepted norm of
international environmental law. Typically, such an assessment
balances economic benefits with environmental costs. The logic of such
an assessment dictates that before a project is undertaken, its
economic benefits must substantially exceed its environmental costs.
India has adopted this norm for select projects which are covered
under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations introduced
in January, 1994.(7)

(8) Another recent norm is to invite the input of non-governmental
organizations (NGOs), especially those representing community-based
grassroots environmental activists. This NGOs participation ensures
that the people who are likely to be most directly affected by
environmental accords will have a major role in monitoring and
otherwise implementing the accord. This principle is mirrored in the
Indian government's domestic pollution control policy(8) and the
national conservation policy,(9) and is given statutory recognition in
the EIA regulations of 1994. The Supreme Court has urged the
government to draw upon the resources of NGOs to prevent environmental

(9) In October 1982, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the
World Charter for Nature and Principles of Sustainable Development.
The agreement expressly recognised the principle of sustainable
development, defined as using living resources in a manner that 'does
not exceed their natural capacity for regeneration' and using 'natural
resources in a manner which ensures the preservation of the species
and ecosystems for the benefit of future generations.' The principle
of sustainable development was also acknowledged in the 1987 report
Our Common Future, published by the United Nations World Commission on
Environment and Development. This report defined sustainable
development as 'humanity's ability... to ensure that [development]
meets the need of the present generation without compromising the
ability of future generations to meet their needs.' The Supreme
Court(11) as well as the Indian government have recognised the
principle of sustainable development as a basis for balancing
ecological imperatives with developmental goals.(12)

(10) Intergenerational equity is among the newest norms of
international environmental law. It can best be understood not so much
as a principle, but rather as an argument in favour of sustainable
economic development and natural resource use. If present generations
continue to consume and deplete resources at unsustainable rates,
future generations will suffer the environmental (and economic)
consequences. It is our children and grandchildren who will be left
without forests (and their carbon retention capacities), without vital
and productive agricultural land and without water suitable for
drinking or sustaining cultivation or aquatic life. Therefore, we must
all undertake to pass on to future generations an environment as
intact as the one we inherited from the previous generation.

Proponents of intergenerational equity maintain that the present
generation has a moral obligation to manage the earth in a manner that
will not jeopardize the aesthetic and economic welfare of the
generations that follow. From this moral premise flow certain
ecological commandments: 'Do not cut down trees faster than they grow
back. Do not farm land at levels, or in a manner, that reduce the
land's regenerative capacity. Do not pollute water at levels that
exceed its natural purification capacity.'

In State of Himachal Pradesh v. Ganesh Wood Products(13) the Supreme
Court recognized the significance of inter-generational equity and
held a government department's approval to establish forest-based
industry to be invalid because 'it is contrary to public interest
involved in preserving forest wealth, maintenance of environment and
ecology and considerations of sustainable growth and inter-
generational equity. After all, the present generation has no right to
deplete all the existing forests and leave nothing for the next and
future generations.'(14)

(11) At the 1982 United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea
(UNCLOS),(15) developing countries, led by India, articulated the norm
that certain resources, such as the deep seabed, are part of the
common heritage of mankind and must be shared by all nations.

(12) The 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit articulated the norm of
common but different responsibilities. With regard to global
environmental concerns such as global climate change or stratospheric
ozone layer depletion, all nations have a shared responsibility, but
richer nations are better able than poorer nations to take the
financial and technological measures necessary to shoulder the


As mentioned, norms of customary international law evolve through
custom and usage. Not all norms are of equal importance however, some
being accorded the status of fundamental norms. The category of
fundamental norms comes under the doctrine of jus cogens, or the
doctrine of peremptory norms. The 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of
Treaties(16) serves to clarify the concept in Article 53 as follows:

A treaty is void if, at the time of its conclusion, it conflicts with
a peremptory norm of general international law. For the purposes of
the present Convention, a peremptory norm of general international law
is a norm accepted and recognised by the international community of
States as a whole as a norm from which no derogation is permitted and
which can be modified only by a subsequent norm of general
international law having the same character.

The doctrine of jus cogens is extremely limited and extends to only a
handful of norms, the most long-standing of which are the prohibitions
against the slave trade, piracy and genocide. Many scholars also
believe that the norm expressed in Principle 21 of the Stockholm
Convention has risen to jus cogens status. Principle 21 is based on
the Roman maxim, sic utero tuo et alienum non laedas, which roughly
means 'do not behave in a way that hurts your neighbour.' However,
again the question arises, what good does an international peremptory
norm, like an international agreement, achieve?

Consider some of the other norms addressed above, such as the right to
a healthful environment. Is there to be one standard by which all
environments are judged, or is it a relative concept? If cutting down
trees for firewood destroys the environment, but provides life-
sustaining fuel, which right will prevail? Which right should prevail?
How much weight does each of the two rights carry when the concept of
intergenerational equity is introduced?

When considering moral ideals such as the principles of a common
heritage and intergenerational equity, what incentives do countries
have to try to mould their practices to achieve these ideals? How can
countries be better motivated? Is saving the environment for its own
sake going to appeal to the majority of people, or does there have to
be a more direct benefit, like the idea that we may, by destroying an
ecosystem, inadvertently destroy the cure for cancer?

What exactly is 'sustainable development'? What is 'sustainable'?
Could not intelligent and informed people differ over whether
producing more minerals or preserving a landscape is sustainable. If
so, which is more important? And what is 'development'? Factories that
employ thousands, give a country more industry with which to compete
in the world market, but discharge effluents into the water and
produce piles of hazardous waste. Do some countries have more of a
right to development and less of an obligation to ensure
sustainability and vice versa? How much more do industrialised nations
need to develop? Have they not gone far enough? Who is to judge?


At the end of a judicial career, Justice Kuldip Singh of the Supreme
Court issued comprehensive directions to clean up the mess created by
the leather tanneries of Tamil Nadu. In the following excerpt from
this leading case, Justice Singh borrowed international law norms and
applied them to the local milieu.


AIR 1996 SC 2715


* * *

The traditional concept that development and ecology are opposed to
each other, is no longer acceptable. 'Sustainable Development' is the
answer. In the International sphere 'Sustainable Development' as a
concept came to be known for the first time in the Stockholm
Declaration of 1972. Thereafter, in 1987 the concept was given a
definite shape by the World Commission on Environment and Development
in its report called 'Our Common Future'. The Commission was chaired
by the then Prime Minister of Norway Ms.G.H.Brundtland and as such the
report is popularly known as "Brundtland Report". In 1991 the World
Conservation Union, United Nations Environment Programme and World
Wide Fund for Nature, jointly came out with a document called 'Caring
for the Earth' which is a strategy for sustainable living. Finally,
came the Earth Summit held in June, 1992 at Rio which saw the largest
gathering of world leaders ever in the history -- deliberating and
chalking out a blue print for the survival of the planet. Among the
tangible achievements of the Rio Conference was the signing of two
conventions, one on biological diversity and another on climate
change. These conventions was signed by 153 nations. The delegates
also approved by consensus three non-binding documents namely, a
Statement on Forestry Principles, a declaration of principles on
environmental policy and development initiatives and Agenda 21, a
programme of action into the next century in areas like poverty,
population and pollution. During the two decades from Stockholm to Rio
'Sustainable Development' has come to be accepted as a viable concept
to eradicate poverty and improve the quality of human life while
living within the carrying capacity of the supporting eco-systems.
'Sustainable Development' as defined by the Brundtland Report means
'development that meets the needs of the present without compromising
the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs'. We
have no hesitation in holding that 'Sustainable Development' as a
balancing concept between ecology and development has been accepted as
a part of the Customary International Law though its salient features
have yet to be finalized by the International Law Jurists.

Some of the salient principles of 'Sustainable Development', culled-
out from Brundtland Report and other international documents, are
inter-generational equity; use and conservation of natural resources;
environmental protection; the precautionary principle; polluter pays
principle; obligation to assist and cooperate, eradication of poverty
and financial assistance to the developing countries. We are, however,
of the view that 'the precautionary principle' and 'the polluter pays'
principle are essential features of 'Sustainable Development'. The
'precautionary principle'-- in the context of the municipal law -

(i) Environmental measures -- by the State Government and the
statutory authorities -- must anticipate, prevent and attack the
causes of environmental degradation.

(ii) Where there are threats of serious and irreversible damage, lack
of scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing
measures to prevent environmental degradation.

(iii) The 'Onus of proof' is on the actor or the
developer/industrialist to show that his action is environmentally

'The polluter pays' principle has been held to be a sound principle by
this Court in Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action vs. Union of
India (The Bichhri Case), 1996 (3) SCC 212. The Court observed, 'We
are of the opinion that any principle evolved in this behalf should be
simple, practical and suited to the conditions obtaining in this
country'. The Court ruled that 'Once the activity carried on is
hazardous or inherently dangerous, the person carrying on such
activity is liable to make good the loss caused to any other person by
his activity irrespective of the fact whether he took reasonable care
while carrying on his activity. The rule is premised upon the very
nature of the activity carried on'. Consequently the polluting
industries are 'Absolutely liable to compensate for the harm caused by
them to villagers in the affected area, to the soil and to the
underground water and hence, they are bound to take all necessary
measures to remove sludge and other pollutants lying in the affected
areas'. The 'polluter pays' principle as interpreted by this Court
means that the absolute liability for harm to the environment extends
not only to compensate the victims of pollution but also the cost of
restoring the environmental degradation. [Remedying] the damaged
environment is part of the process of 'Sustainable Development' and as
such [the] polluter is liable to pay the cost to the individual [who]
suffers as well as the cost of reversing the damaged ecology.

[The court then set out the provision of the Constitution as well as
the Water Act, Air Act and Environment (Protection) Act]. In view of
the above mentioned constitutional and statutory provisions we have no
hesitation in holding that the precautionary principle and the
polluter pays principle are part of the environmental law of the

Even otherwise once these principles are accepted as part of the
Customary International Law there would be no difficulty in accepting
them as part of the domestic law. It is almost accepted proposition of
law that the rule of Customary International Law which are not
contrary to the municipal law shall be deemed to have been
incorporated in the domestic law and shall be followed by the Courts
of Law. For support we may refer to Justice H.R.Khanna's opinion in
Addl. Distt. Magistrate Jabalpur vs. Shivakant Shukla (AIR 1976 SC
1207), Jolly George Verghese's case (AIR 1980 SC 470) and Gramophone
Company's case (AIR 1984 SC 667).

The Constitutional and statutory provisions protect a persons right to
fresh air, clean water and pollution free environment, but the source
of the right is the inalienable common law right of clean environment.
[The court proceeded to quote a paragraph from Blackstone's
commentaries on the Laws of England (1876) in respect of 'nuisance'].
Our legal system having been founded on the British Common Law the
right of a person to pollution free environment is a part of the basic
jurisprudence of the land.


Article 51(c) of the Constitution sets out a Directive Principle
requiring the state to foster respect for international law and treaty
obligations. Article 253 of the Constitution empowers Parliament to
make laws implementing India's international obligations as well as
any decision made at an international conference, association or other
body. Article 253 states : 'Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing
provisions of this Chapter, Parliament has power to make any law for
the whole or any part of the territory of India for implementing any
treaty, agreement or convention with any other country or countries or
any decision made at any international conference, association or
other body'. Entry 13 of the Union List covers : 'Participation in
international conferences, associations and other bodies and
implementing of decisions made thereat.' In view of the broad range of
issues addressed by international conventions, conferences, treaties
and agreements, Article 253 read with Entry 13 apparently gives
Parliament the power to enact laws on virtually any entry contained in
the State List.

Parliament has used its power under Article 253 read with Entry 13 of
the Union List to enact the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution)
Act of 1981 and the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986.(17)7 The
preambles to both laws state that these Acts were passed to implement
the decisions reached at the United Nations Conference on the Human
Environment held at Stockholm in 1972. At the conference, members of
the United Nations agreed to work to preserve the world's natural
resources, and called on each country to carry out this goal.

The broad language of Article 253 suggests that in the wake of the
Stockholm Conference in 1972, Parliament has the power to legislate on
all matters linked to the preservation of natural resources.
Parliament's use of Article 253 to enact the Air Act and Environment
Act confirms this view.


The Supreme Court has occasionally looked at pollution standards
abroad to strengthen local environmental regulation. This is
illustrated by the Motor Vehicle Pollution case filed by Mr. M.C.
Mehta in the Supreme Court.

On April 16, 1999, the Supreme Court targetted diesel vehicles, which
were blamed for more than 90 per cent of the Nitrogen Oxide and
respirable particulate matter (RSPM) in Delhi's air. Noting that the
California Air Resource Board had on 27 August 1998 formally
designated diesel particulate as a toxic air contaminant, and the
amicus curiae's request to suspend the registration of diesel vehicles
in Delhi, the court adjourned the case to April 29, 1999 to consider
submissions on the issue.(18)8

On the adjourned date a bench headed by Chief Justice A. S. Anand
imposed super norms for vehicles registered in the National Capital
Region (NCR), which 'appeared appropriate' to the bench.(19)9 The
court required all private vehicles registered after 1 June 1999 to
conform to Euro I norms and those registered after 1 April 2000 to
meet the Euro II norms. Diesel taxi's were prohibited in the NCR
unless they conformed to Euro II norms. The Euro norms are European
Community standards that have been enforced across Europe. On 13 May
1999,(20)0 the court clarified that what it meant by the 'Euro I
norms' were the India 2000 norms, notified by the Central Government
on 28 August 1997. In other words, the court advanced the statutory
emission norms that were to come into effect on 1 April 2000 to 1 June
1999; and introduced more stringent emission standards (Euro II) with
effect from 1 April 2000. The Euro II norms were re-christened 'Bharat
Stage II' standards by the Central Government and were notified
through the Central Motor Vehicles (Third Amendment) Rules of 2000.


An emerging trend in India is the impact of Global NGOs in influencing
domestic environmental law and policy. This is not an entirely new
development, since the assistance of say IUCN in helping the local
groups campaigning against the Silent Valley project is well
documented. Greenpeace reports played a role in prompting the Supreme
Court of India to clamp down on the import of hazardous waste into the
country for recycling. It was only pursuant to directions issued by
the Supreme Court in the public interest litigation, Research
Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy v.
Union of India that the import of hazardous waste was banned.
Likewise, a petition has been recently filed in the Calcutta High
Court relating to the adverse environmental impact of PVC. This
petition too relies heavily on a report prepared by Greenpeace. Global
NGOs are attempting to spur governments into adopting local
regulations on the basis of environmental standards and norms that
have been invoked in jurisdictions elsewhere.

1. 1 Reprinted in 31 I.L.M. 818 (1992) and P.Birnie and A.Boyle, Basic
Documents on International Law and Environment 390 (1995).

2. 2 Emphasis supplied. Reprinted in P.Birnie and A.Boyle, id. at 1.


3 The fundamental right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the
Indian Constitution has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to
include the right to a wholesome environment. Subhash Kumar v. State
of Bihar, AIR 1991 SC 420, 424.


4 The Bichhri Case (Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action v. Union of
India), AIR 1996 SC 1446; and Vellore Citizens' Welfare Forum v. Union
of India, AIR 1996 SC 2715.

5. 5 Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, Policy
Statement for Abatement of Pollution para 3.3 (26 February 1992).

6. 6 Supra note 4. In A.P. Pollution Control Board v Prof. M.V. Nayudu
AIR 1999 SC 812 the Supreme Court traced the development of the
precautionary principle.


7 The EIA regulations are extensively dealt with in the Large Projects


8 Supra note 5, at para 11.1.

9. 9 Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India,
National Conservation Strategy and Policy Statement on Environment and
Development para 8.7 (June, 1992).

10. 10 Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action v Union of India (CRZ
Notification Case) 1996 (5) SCC 281.

11. 11 Vellore Citizens' Welfare Forum v Union of India AIR 1996 SC

12. 12 Supra note 9, at paras 1.1, 1.3.

13. 13 AIR 1996 SC 149, 163. Also see CRZ Notification Case, Supra
note 10, where the court expressed its concern at the adverse
ecological effects which will have to be borne by future generations.

14. 14 Id.

15. 15 Reprinted in 21 I.L.M. 1261 (1982).

16. 16 Reprinted in 8 I.L.M. 679 (1969).

17. 1 7 S. Jagannath v Union of India (Shrimp Culture Case) AIR 1997
SC 811, 844, 846.

18. 18 1999 (6) SCC 9.

19. 19 1999 (6) SCC 12.

20. 20 1999 (6) SCC 14.