Green Justice and the Application of Polluter- Pays Principle: A Study of India's National Green Tribunal

12 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2020 Last revised: 16 Dec 2020

See all articles by Usha Tandon

Usha Tandon

University of Delhi - Campus Law Centre

Date Written: January 30, 2020


The Green Tribunal of India has been applying Polluter -Pays Principle in innumerable cases with the result that PPP has emerged as a powerful legal instrument to restore the damaged environment and compensate the pollution-victims. For instance, recently, in March, 2019, the Green Tribunal has imposed a fine of, as much as Rs. 500 crore ( 5 billion) on Volkswagen for creating air pollution and hiding it by adopting a “cheat device” in its diesel vehicles in India. The Green Tribunal has been valiantly applying the Polluter-Pays Principle not only to big corporate giants, but also to Pollution Control Boards as well as the Government, and has earned the reputation of staunch protector of wholesome environment giving a new dimension to the environmental jurisprudence in India. The paper identifies and discusses various methods adopted by Green Tribunal to implement Polluter-Pays Principle. The substance of Polluter-Pays Principle, in any jurisdiction, needs to answer four questions: i)what does pollution consists of? ii)Who can be called‘polluters’? iii) To whom polluters should make the payment? iv)How much the polluters should pay?While analysing various judgments and orders of the Green Tribunal of India, this paper endeavours to find answers to the above questions. Given the fact that India is a fast developing economy and is likely to have many developmental projects, the paper argues for the broader and stricter application of the Polluter-Pays Principle by the Green Tribunal of India. At the same time, it suggests that, to maintain its hard earned credibility, the Green Tribunal needs to evolve or adapt a principle of law contributing to a normative framework for computation of compensation.

Keywords: The Polluter-Pays Principle, OECD, Green Tribunal, Restoration of Environment, Compensation, Civil Penalty

Suggested Citation

Tandon, Usha, Green Justice and the Application of Polluter- Pays Principle: A Study of India's National Green Tribunal (January 30, 2020). OIDA International Journal of Sustainable Development, Vol. 13, No. 01, pp. 35-46, 2020, Available at SSRN:

Usha Tandon (Contact Author)

University of Delhi - Campus Law Centre ( email )

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