Since the late 1980’s, the Supreme Court of India has been quite active as far as environmental issues in India are concerned. While in most of the countries, it is often the executive together with the legislative branches that are at the forefront with respect to planning and implementation of environmental issues, the situation in India has been different. The Supreme Court has often engaged itself in introducing as well as interpreting new changes in environmental jurisprudence in a direct manner. The Supreme Court laid down new principles in order to protect the environment, reinterpreted environmental laws, given additional powers to the existing authority through a series of directions and judgments. The Supreme Court has also created new institutions as well as structures as far as environmental laws are concerned.

Environmental Laws Have Been Amply Supported by the Apex Court

The Supreme Court’s directions on environmental issues generally go beyond the mere questions of law. And as it is rightfully expected from the Apex Court of a democratically governed country. In its order, the Supreme Court of India includes executive actions as well as the technical details of environmental actions that have to be implemented. In fact, some of the critics of the Supreme Court have described the Court as the Lords of Green Bench or Garbage Supervisor. However, the supporters of the Supreme Court often call these orders as well as the Indian benches as pioneering. This they see in both the terms of laying down new environmental laws and delivering environmental justice.

Experts claim that the reasons given for the increasing involvement of the Supreme Court in governance arenas are quite complex. The main aspect is the critical failure of various government agencies as well as the state-owned enterprises in carrying out their Constitutional and Statutory duties as far as environmental protection is concerned. The apathetic attitude has led to civil society groups to get into action and file public interest complaints with the various Courts, particularly with reference to the Supreme Court for appropriate remedies.