Environmental Law under the Criminal Procedure Code

·Ratlam Municipal Council case

·The problem that presented itself before the Court was in one sense no different from a daily spectacle in the overpopulated townships of India: the absence of proper drainage systems creating nuisance of garbage accumulation on the streets.

·The response of the Court was however fascinatingly different: it reached out to Section 133 of the Criminal Procedure Code that confers upon the Magistracy summary power to give directions for abatement of a public nuisance and elected the Judicial Magistrate to frame a scheme to provide a working drainage system of sufficient capacity to meet the needs of the people.

· Lakshmi Cement case

· It was held that Section 133 CrPC does not automatically or impliedly get repealed after the commencement of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. So proceedings under Section 133 CrPC are not barred.

·To analyze the use of criminal sanctions for abatement of environmental nuisance it is essential to consider the various precedents in this regard. In Ajeet Mehta v. State of Rajasthan22 it was held that stocking of fodder on a certain plot in a residential colony constitutes pollution of atmosphere and hence public nuisance. The order directing removal of this nuisance was held valid and the respondents were directed not to do any business of fodder on that plot.

·In another case there were fodder tali in a residential colony to which fodder was brought daily during the night by trucks which were unloaded in the morning. This caused intolerable noise, emanating offensive smell and spreading dust-containing particles of fodder cut. It was held as public nuisance23.

·In Nagarjuna Paper Mills case13 it was observed by the A.P. High Court that the power relating to air and water pollution, the Water Act, 1974 has taken away the power of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate to pass an order to close a factory causing pollution24. The abovesaid view was also confirmed by the Supreme Court in Ratlam case3 where Their Lordships held that "when on disclosure of existence of a public nuisance from information and evidence, the Magistrate considers that such unlawful obstruction or nuisance should be removed from any public place which maybe lawfully used by the public, he is to order removal of such nuisance". (SCC p. 170, para 13)

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