Following on from the announcement of confirmed speakers for Plenary Session 4 Access to Environmental Justice, the Organizing Committee is delighted to profile Justice Swatanter Kumar, Chairperson, National Green Tribunal, India, who will present a paper on "Access to Environmental Justice in India and the Indian Constitution" on Friday 28 June 9.00am-11.00am.


Justice Kumar has practised in various High Courts, Tribunals and the Supreme Court. He was Legal Advisor/Standing Counsel for the Central Pollution Control Board, other public undertakings and banks for a number of years and practised on the Original Side, Appellate Side, Extraordinary Ordinary Jurisdiction (Writ) and other different fields including public interest litigation with reference to environment.
After serving as Judge of Delhi High Court since 2004, he was elevated in 2007 as Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, then in 2009 to Supreme Court of India, where he disposed of a large number of cases relating to civil, criminal, fiscal, public interest litigation and environment. Various significant judgments were authored by him, including inter-linking of rivers in India and pollution in river Yamuna in Delhi.
As a sitting judge of Supreme Court, he was appointed as Chairperson, National Green Tribunal. Since taking over chairpersonship of NGT from 20th December, 2012, he has contributed tremendously in the growth of the NGT providing it requisite infrastructure and jurisdiction.

Abstract: Access to Environmental Justice in India and Indian Constitution

In an ideal world, in a world that is healthy, whose inhabitants are in the pink of health, in a world where flowers blossom and rivers run their course to meet the oceans, we would not need environment justice or, consequently, access thereto. But our race, while treating life as a trade off between environment and development, somewhere along the line let go off the environment. We cut trees, built dams, polluted the rivers that we drink from, the air that we breathe. Somewhere along the line, we forgot what was so aptly described by the great American revolutionist, Martin Luther King, that “For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.” Consequently, today we are at the brink of ominous harm to our race. It is regretful that Environmental Justice and its access thereto, has become the need of the hour. In India, the Constitution, under various articles stresses upon the need for environment. The Supreme Court, besides exercising jurisdiction under Article 32 in specific cases also entertains Public Interest Litigations where the issue relates to larger Public Interest. More particularly in cases of environmental degradation, it further expands the scope of its extra-ordinary jurisdiction. Similarly there are various legislations which are dedicated to the various facets of Environmental Law. In order to streamline the justice delivery system in this aspect, India also has a dedicated forum i.e. the National Green Tribunal with 5 benches all over the country to make environmental justice more accessible.

Organizing Committee: 11th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium 2013