SUBHASH KUMAR VS. STATE OF BIHAR AND ORS

BACKGROUND HISTORY

In this case,[1] Article 32 of the Indian Constitution has been interpreted broadly. The Supreme Court originally planned and designed to enforce people’s Fundamental Rights under Article 32 of the Constitution, as the Constitution gives the Supreme Court the right to do so. It is a magnificent method granted in the Constitution that protects an individual’s rights[2]. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution protects the right to life and personal liberty as a basic right, guaranteeing a person a pollution-free atmosphere and water[3]. Assume that anything that endangers an individual’s quality of life violates the law. In that instance, a citizen is given a remedy in Article 32 of the Constitution to eliminate pollution that has harmed their quality of life.

The definition of public interest litigation (PIL) is when an act is done to protect or benefit the public, which implies safeguarding the interests of all citizens. Articles 226 and 32 of the Indian Constitution can be filed in any court and individual group acting in the public good, particularly those who fail to approach the court. We will examine how the court has decided whether the infringement of a citizen’s right to life and liberty can be challenged constitutionally under Article 32. The court also has explored a broader definition of article 21, which would ensure a clean and safe environment for residents.

 

FACTS OF THE CASE

“Subhash Kumar’s petitioner used public interest litigation to lodge a writ suit asserting that the respondents, West Bokaro Collieries and Tata Iron and Steel Company, were violating the law.”

(CISCO) had contaminated the river Bokaro by dumping excess waste from their washeries in sludge or slurry, rendering the water unfit for drinking and agriculture. Furthermore, this material is left in riverbeds, including Plot No. 170, the petitioner’s property. The applicant requested that the judge issue an order compelling the respondent company to take urgent action to avoid pollution and initiate a lawsuit over “TISCO under the 1974 Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act”[4]. This same applicant also requested an injunction that would allow him to retrieve sewage from the despondent’ washeries. The Bihar State Pollution Board has already advised the Bokaro Collieries to take frequent and concrete steps to reduce the risk of sewage dumping into the river, per the court. TISCO has been permitted to release trash into the river, but only under Sections 24 and 25 of the Clean Water Act.

ISSUES RAISED

  1. Whether the PIL filed in the public interest or to deal with personal matters?
  2. Has the discharge of slurry from the defendant’s mining plant polluted the river Bokaro?

 

SUMMARY OF ARGUMENTS

  • Arguments advanced from the side of Petitioner

Subhash Kumar, the applicant, claimed that dumping trash from sewage from Tata Iron & Steel Co. Limited washers pollutes the river Bokaro’s water. He further alleged that the water being carried to remote regions is inappropriate for consumption or agriculture. The frequent outflow of dirt jeopardizes people’s lives. “It further claims that the state of Bihar has taken no action despite frequent requests and is even providing royalty on leasing payments”.[5] “He has asked that the respondents be directed in his petition, such as the state of Bihar and the Bihar Pollution Control Board”[6].

  • Arguments advanced from the side of Respondents

On the other side, the counsel for the Respondents contended that the Bihar Pollution Control Board had previously taken all necessary precautions to avoid pollution. “The Board has given the Tata Iron & Steel Co. permission to release pollutants from its channels under Sections 25 and 26 of the Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act of 1974”[7]. The Board conducted an analysis and comprehensive surveillance of the river before granting TISCO authorization to release the waste into the Bokaro river to ensure that the industrial effluvium would not harm the river.

According to the defendant’s side, the four lagoons were also developed to boost sewage storage capacity. The Pollution Board maintained a watch on the sewage, inspecting the settling tanks used to handle the pollutants from the washeries on June 20, 1988. The four sedimented tanks that had been built were adequate at the time of inspection, and there had been no sewage emissions other than minor leakage from the dam.

There was also no outflow flow in the Bokaro River, meaning there was no danger of river contamination or impairment to soil fertility. The defendants disputed the petition’s statements that remedial actions had been adopted to reduce sludge discharge from washeries into the Bokaro River. The Subjects also claimed that because the Bokaro River has been dry for nine months, sludge release causes no harm or pollution; the sludge that had settled in the pond was regarded for sale as the carboniferous elements contained in the sludge are crucially important and valuable for propellant reasons.

The corporation ensured that no sewage from the reservoir escaped, which is required for fuel production. The firm can’t afford to toss the sludge out in the river because of its high market share, so it’s taken the appropriate precautions to guarantee that none of it gets up in the pond. ” The Respondents further asserted that the Company followed the 1974 State Pollution Control Board Act”. 

FINAL JUDGEMENT

The court decided that the Board had undertaken reasonable measures to prevent factory trash from being thrown into the river and factory trash from being thrown into the river and dismissed the petitioner’s appeal. Moreover, it was determined that an individual requesting to utilize the Court’s jurisdiction “under article 32 must do so to preserve the fundamental rights of those harmed, not punish petitioners who harbor hatred or hostility toward him. By asserting this Court’s unique jurisdiction over personal concerns under the garb of public interest litigation, the court played a part in discouraging such applications and ensuring that the judicial system is not obstructed or polluted by opportunistic litigants. According to the bench, SPCB also took highly integrative.

Because the Applicant was a strong merchant with a coal trading license, he urged the Respondents to furnish him with more sludge; when they declined, he began bullying them. ” Under Article 226 of the Constitution, the Petitioner filed many applications with the Patna High Court, demanding authority to collect sludge from raiyat property”. After examining the evidence, the Court rejected the current case and directed the Applicant to pay the Defendants 5,000 rupees.

ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION

Given the facts of the case and the claims from both sides, it is evident that the petitioner lacks a viable right of action and grounds for claiming that the respondents’ washeries were polluting the Bokaro river. However, the Bench agreed with the Respondents’ submissions while observing that the Bihar State Pollution Control Board has implemented appropriate contamination and preventative methods.

The Petitioner was rich and had a license for coal trading. He attempted to get the Respondent to give him more sludge, and when they refused, he harassed them. To acquire permit sewage from the raiyat land, the applicant submitted various cases in the Patna High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution. The judge did not go into further information since the present petition was brought for personal advantage rather than the general good. As a result, writ petitions were no longer possible.

We can conclude from this case study that the petitioner filed this case because of personal grievances and concerns of public concerns. The Supreme Court’s interpretations, on the other hand, have established the foundation of environmental jurisprudence, which has benefited the general public. Article 21 of the Constitution recognizes the right to life as a fundamental human right that ensures a clean environment. One of our Constitution’s strengths is that it never restricts or denies a person’s ability to preserve their basic rights, whether for oneself or against the general public. Because the petition was not filed quickly, the Court did not intend to go further into the circumstances in this case.

Author(s) Name: Shreya Kumari (Xavier Law School, XIM University)

References:

[1] 1991 AIR 420, 1991 SCR (1) 5

[2] <https://context.reverso.net/translation/dutch-english/t+individu>

[3] Raza, Anam. “THE BEST THING TO HOLD IN LIFE IS TO BE WITH EACH OTHER…” internationaljournalofresearch.com. N.p., 29 Jun. 2020. Web. 12 Jun. 2022.
<https://internationaljournalofresearch.com/2020/06/29/the-best-thing-to-hold-in-life-is-to-be-with-each-other>.

[4] “Subhash Kumar vs State Of Bihar Case Brief.” thelawexpress.com. N.p., 15 Mar. 2022. Web. 12 Jun. 2022.
<https://thelawexpress.com/subhash-kumar-vs-state-of-bihar-case-brief>.

[5] [5] “Subhash Kumar vs State Of Bihar Case Brief.” thelawexpress.com. N.p., 15 Mar. 2022. Web. 12 Jun. 2022.
<https://thelawexpress.com/subhash-kumar-vs-state-of-bihar-case-brief>.

[6] https://lawfaculty.du.ac.in/files/course_material/VI_Term2021/LB-603%20Environmental%20Law%202021.pdf

[7] elaw.org. N.p., Web. 12 Jun. 2022.
<https://elaw.org/es/system/files/JDESA-Part-2.doc>.

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