The health of the environment is key to preserving the right to life, the Supreme Court has observed in a recent judgment and suspended the environmental clearance granted for an international airport at Mopa in Goa.
Upholding the need to strengthen the ‘environmental rule of law’ for both intra and inter-generational equity, a Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta said every branch of governance and institutions across the country should strive to enforce this rule of law.
While the most direct effect of a strong rule of law is protection of the environment, a firm regime against environmental exploitation would “strengthen rule of law more broadly, support sustainable economic and social development, protect public health, contribute to peace and security by avoiding and defusing conflict, and protect human and constitutional rights.”
The apex court said transparency is necessary for the robust enforcement of environmental rule of law.
“The rule of law requires a regime which has effective, accountable and transparent institutions,” Justice Chandrachud observed.
In this case, the court said how the State of Goa, the Centre and the concessionaire highlighted the need for the new airport to accommodate the increasing volume of passengers. They had urged the court to disregard the “flaws” in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) process. They had argued that setting up a new airport was a “matter of policy.”
However, dismissing their pleas, the court said: “the role of the decision-makers is to ensure that every important facet of the environment is adequately studied and that the impact of the proposed activity is carefully assessed.”
“In the present case, as our analysis has indicated, there has been a failure of due process,” the court held.