T N Godavarman Thirumulkpad v Union of India

Protecting and preserving an environemnt free of pollution

The Supreme Court (3 December 1997) placed reliance on Article 21 of the Constitution of India but also on the Directive Principles of State Policy to emphasise the principle of sustainable development. The court relied on the principle of trust as opposed to ownership of natural resources and sought to balance the need for development with preservation of the environment. As part of the judgment the court held that The Forest Conservation Act 1980 was enacted with a view to check further deforestation, and must therefore apply to all forests regardless of ownership.