River as a Legal Entity: An Analysis in the Light of Mohammed Salim vs. State of Uttarakhand
The IUP Law Review, Vol. VIII, No. 4, October 2018, pp. 33-41
Posted: 23 May 2019
Date Written: October 3, 2018
In India, river Ganga is extremely important for Hindus and for those who depend on it for their livelihood. The Government of India has declared river Ganga as the ‘national river of India’ in a bid to prevent the water from getting polluted and to improve the water quality and as a step to instill in the minds of the people the importance of the river. On March 20, 2017, the Uttarakhand High Court, in the case of Mohammed Salim vs. State of Uttarakhand, expressed the utmost expediency to give legal status to rivers Ganga and Yamuna as a living person/legal entity in accordance with Articles 48A and 51A(g) of the Constitution of India. This decision gained wide popularity across the world as India became the second in the world after New Zealand to declare river as a living entity. But despite the popular approval of the verdict, the apex court, in a subsequent Special Leave Petition filed by the Government of Uttarakhand, stayed the order of the High Court. Against this background, the paper highlights the importance of river Ganga in the Hindu mythology. The paper also focuses on the recent judgment by the Uttarakhand High Court on the status of river Ganga and also compares the position of river Ganga with the case of Whanganui river of New Zealand and the rights of nature under Ecuador Constitution.
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