Effectiveness of Environmental Public Interest Litigation in India: Determining the Key Variables
57 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2011
This paper deals with the well-known environmental public interest litigation before the Supreme Court of India. While a certain amount of literature exists, principally describing the judicial activism in which the Supreme Court of India has engaged for many years, to date no comprehensive explanation exists for the effectiveness of this phenomenon.
We employ a law and economics framework to explain why environmental interest litigation has (to some extent) been effective in the case of India. We use recent empirical literature, indicating how the decisions of the Supreme Court have led effectively to a reduction of pollution levels e.g. in Delhi, but also in the Gangha river. In the paper, a law and economics framework is used to examine what particular questions arise in environmental public interest litigation. Hence, the question of locus standi is examined as well as the question how the court can have the expertise to intervene in environmental pollution cases. After examining these questions from a theoretical law and economics perspective, we turn to examining how the Supreme Court of India has dealt with these issues and critically analyze the court’s approach.
Finally, the paper goes beyond the case of India by providing indicators on when environmental public interest litigation can generally be expected to be effective in reducing pollution levels. The contribution therefore has two clear objectives: on the one hand, it critically analyses environmental public interest litigation in India, using an economic framework and, on the other hand, it provides a general overview of the conditions environmental public interest litigation can contribute to reducing pollution levels.
Keywords: law and economics, locus standi, environmental public interest litigation, environmental standard setting, judicial activism, legitimacy
JEL Classification: K32; K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation