Green Courts in India: Strengthening Environmental Governance?

Law, Environment and Development Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1, p. 424, 2008

26 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2008 Last revised: 20 Jun 2014

See all articles by Raghav Sharma

Raghav Sharma

National Law University Jodhpur (NLUJ)

Date Written: January 30, 2008


The Indian experience in environmental governance, involving easy access to justice through Public Interest Litigation, demonstrates that 'independent' and 'powerful' superior courts are indispensable for securing environmental justice. However, the superior courts are unable to satisfactorily resolve environmental disputes involving scientific and technical questions due to lack of permanent expert panels to assist them. Thus, the Law Commission of India has mooted the idea of specialised Environmental (Green) Courts in its 186th Report which will be structurally modeled on similar courts functioning in Australia and New Zealand. While recognizing the significance of a specialised judiciary, this paper criticizes the proposal of the Law Commission as a half hearted attempt in this direction. The proposed structure is utterly unimpressive as it purports to withdraw environmental disputes from the jurisdiction of superior courts while entrusting them to weak Environmental Courts which appear vulnerable to substantial executive interference. Furthermore, the proposed courts have been weaned of the wide powers which the superior courts were hitherto exercising in environmental matters. Thus, as an alternative, it is proposed that a more pragmatic course will be to create specialist divisions within the existing Indian High Courts to effectively address the practical problems involved in environmental adjudication.

Keywords: Article 21, Australia, Constitution of India, Environmental Courts, Environmental Governance, Judicial Independence, Law Commission of India, New Zealand, Right to Environment, Superior Courts

Suggested Citation

Sharma, Raghav, Green Courts in India: Strengthening Environmental Governance? (January 30, 2008). Law, Environment and Development Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1, p. 424, 2008, Available at SSRN:

Raghav Sharma (Contact Author)

National Law University Jodhpur (NLUJ) ( email )

NH-65, Nagour Road
Kamala Nehru Nagar, Jodhpur
Mandore, Jodhpur, Rajasthan 34230

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