In a novel effort to make sure voluntary contributions from parties to a case are utilised to their fullest, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ordered the creation of an ‘Environment Fund’.
As reported by Live Law, the matter came up in court on June 20 in a case where the petitioner and respondent had arrived at an 'amicable settlement' following which the respondents had informed the court of their willingness to "contribute some amount to any welfare organisation."
Hearing the matter, Justice D Krishnakumar observed, “Right to Clean Environment is now recognised as one of the Fundamental Rights, covered under ‘Right to Life’, under Article 21 of the Constitution of India by the Hon’ble Supreme Court. While, thus, the Right to Clean Environment is covered under Right to Life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, it follows, that a fundamental duty is cast on every citizen of this great country, to protect natural environment, as has been envisaged under Article 51-A of the Constitution of India. A duty is also cast on this Court to protect Mother Nature so as to be cherished by our future generations.”
The court observed that earlier, when parties to a case volunteered a contribution, they would be directed to deposit the same with a specific organisation.
The Court stated, “Therefore, this Court is of the firm view that it is appropriate that the cost should also be paid to the “Environmental Fund” for the purpose of plantation etc.”
This was followed by a direction to the Tamil Nadu Legal Services Authority, Chennai which would undertake the setting up of the fund.
Elaborating on the usage of funds, the Court said, “The amount received under the head “Environmental Fund” shall be utilised for the purpose of planting, developing and maintaining trees... The said fund can also be made use of for the purposes of cleaning and maintaining water bodies, which are the streams of life.”
The Court also laid out tasks for the Taluk Legal Services Committees and the District Legal Services Authorities, asking them to take the help of the Forest Department, Horticulture Department and local authorities in choosing the type of saplings to be planted in a specific area.