MC Mehta is a lawyer by profession and an enthusiastic environmentalist by choice. He seeks to make India’s environment a non-polluted and healthy one. Mehta is the only Supreme Court Lawyer who has stood up against polluting Indian Industries and achieved victory against them. He has fought numerous cases, out of which a few are discussed below.
MC Mehta vs Union of India is an important topic for UPSC exam aspirants. This is why having a thorough knowledge of the cases under this topic is crucial for efficient preparation.
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MC Mehta vs Union of India – Cases
The cases MC Mehta fought are as follows-
The Taj Mahal Case-
The Taj Mahal Case, also known as the Taj Trapezium Case, was fought between M.C. Mehta and the Union of India. He filed a writ petition in 1986.
Background- Taj Mahal is considered one of India’s most epic Mughal structures. The Taj Trapezium zone, which is of 10,400 sq. km., is built to protect it from pollution. Mehta visited Taj in 1984 and noticed the white marble of Taj turning yellow. To bring this matter into limelight, he filed a petition in the Supreme Court.
Facts of the case-
- The petitioner stated pollution as the main cause of the yellow colour. Emission of pollutant gases like sulphur dioxide and oxygen turned into acid rain. This rain was harmful to the monument and caused the marbles to turn yellow.
- Therefore, the petitioner asked for the protection of the monument.
- As a result, the Central Board for Prevention and Control of Water published “Inventory and Assessment of Pollution Emission in and Around Agra-Mathura Region”.
- The report declared the pollution levels as high and measures to reduce them.
- One of the measures was to shut down thermal power stations. Another step was to reduce emissions of Sulphur Dioxide by 50%.
Judgements- the Supreme Court observed that other than chemicals, socio-economic factors too influenced the degradation of Taj. The people living in the Trapezium Zone were at risk due to air pollution. The court ordered 292 industries to operate using safe fuels like propane instead of coke/coal, otherwise they would have to relocate. The Gas Authority of India Limited was in charge of applications of gas. The court also gave few fundamental rights to workers of these industries and demanded payment of their wages during the time taken for relocation.
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The Oleum Gas Leak Case
Background- The case took place between MC Mehta and Union of India in 1985. This was a year after the Bhopal Gas tragedy took place. Mehta demanded that Shriram Industries, located in a congested place in Delhi, needed to close down. On 4th and 6th December, the industry leaked petroleum gas.
Facts of the Case-
- Social activist lawyer M.C. Mehta filed a writ petition for the closure of Shriram Food and Fertiliser Industry as it posed a hazardous risk to people’s lives because of its location.
- The Assistant Commissioner of Factories and the Inspector of Factories issued two orders to shut down the plant under the Factories Act (1948) on 7th and 24th December.
Judgements- The court observed that these hazardous industries contributed to people’s economic development and advancement. For example, these produce chlorine which helps in water disinfection. These industries also support employment of people. Thus, the final decision taken by the judges was to relocate such factories to less populated areas so that they would not pose a threat to human life. The court suggested the government adopt a national policy for the location of such toxic plants. It should be thoroughly checked if the plants are causing any risk to the community.
Ganga Pollution Case
Background- River Ganga is the lifeline to many civilizations. But along with domestic waste, industrial waste is also polluting this river. M.C. Mehta filed a PIL under article 32 of constitution in the Supreme Court. It has been stated that the water of this river is Holy, and many people consume it. Thus protecting it is vital for human life.
- Tanneries discharged the maximum industrial waste in Kanpur.
- The tanneries defended themselves by stating that they are not directly discharging this waste into Ganges. Instead, they discharge into municipal drains and it is the Municipality’s responsibility not to mix the two.
- In addition, they stated that the equipment required for regulatory mechanisms is too expensive and shutdown of these tanneries would lead to unemployment.
Judgement- The court declared that unemployment and revenue is a matter that is incomparable to public health. The court also blamed the Municipality for being a total failure and asked the Municipality to take proper action against this. The court demanded an adequate drainage and sewage system.
Hopefully, this article on M.C. Mehta vs Union of India will help UPSC aspirants. For more information, candidates can check the official website of M.C. Mehta.
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Frequently Asked Questions on MC Mehta vs Union of India
Name two cases fought by M.C. Mehta
Two cases fought by M.C. Mehta are The Antop Hill case and Delhi Monuments Case.
Who is the Green Avenger of India?
M.C. Mehta is the Green Avenger of India.
What is the full name of M.C. Mehta?
The full name of M.C. Mehta is Mahesh Chander Mehta.