The right to clean environment is the fundamental right of a citizen of India as part of ‘Right To Life’ under Article 21 of the Constitution Of India. It is a fundamental duty of the citizens of India to protect the natural environment under Article 51-A of the Constitution of India. Planting of more trees would ensure protection of environment and effective combat of drastic and dangerous pollution.
Keeping the aforementioned vision in mind, a Single Judge Bench of the Hon’ble Madras High Court comprising of Justice D. Krishnakumar on 20th June 2018 ruled that costs imposed by the High Court and Subordinate Courts be deposited into an “Environmental Fund” and passed a set of directions to the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry State Legal Services Authorities:
A) The Tamil Nadu and Puducherry State Legal Services Authorities are to open a separate account under the head “Environmental Fund” to deposit the amounts received from the High Courts and various subordinate Courts for the purpose of planting, developing, maintaining trees and the cleaning, maintenance of water bodies in the Court and/or public premises.
B) The Taluk Legal Services Committees are to identify the variety and number of saplings proposed to be planted, the costs involved therein, including fencing and submit a proposal to the concerned District Legal Services Authority.
C) Expert advice can be taken with regards to choosing the type of saplings to be planted in a specific area by keeping in mind the local environment conditions and healthy growth, usage of the plants.
D) The State Legal Services Authority is to release amounts from the said fund upon the request of the District Legal Services Authority. The procurement, to the extent possible, shall be from the District Forest/ Horticulture Departments.
E) For the purposes of maintenance, plantation, development and ensuring proper watering, fencing etc. of the saplings so planted, the District Legal Services Authority or Taluk Legal Services Committee can make use of the services of the respective officials in the Forest department or Horticulture department or Public Works Department or Local authorities.
F) In case of fruit or vegetable bearing trees, the amount earned after marketing the produce is to be remitted into the “Environmental Fund”.
G) Procedural Instructions can be issued by the respective Member Secretaries of the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry State Legal Services Authority as and when required. The costs imposed by various courts are to be remitted by the parties directly at the office of the Member Secretary of the respective State Legal Services Authority.
Read the full judgement here.