Bangalore Medical Trust v. B. S. Muddappa

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55. In the result this appeal fails, for the reasons stated by us in our separate but concurring judgements, and is accordingly dismissed. We further direct that the respondents shall be entitled to their cost throughout.

Appeal dismissed.

Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Group v. Bombay Suburban Electricity Supply Company Ltd.


Bombay Environmental Action Group v. State of Maharashtra

(1991) 2 Supreme Court Cases 539

S. Ranganathan, S.C. Agrawal and N.D. Ojha, JJ.

RANGANATHAN, J.- The two petitioners, who are “Environment Protection Groups” objected to the clearance, by the State of Maharashtra and Union of India, of a proposal of the Bombay Sub-urban Electricity Supply Company Limited (hereinafter referred to as “BSES”;) for the construction of a thermal power plant over an area of 800 hectares or thereabouts in Dahanu, Maharashtra. They filed writ petition in the Bombay High Court challenging the decision of the Central Government to that effect dated March 30, 1990 adjourning the meeting to enable the Government of India to consider the representations made by the two petitioners. Government of India did this and reaffirmed its decision to clear the project. A detailed affidavit was filed on behalf of the Union on June, 29, 1990. To this was enclosed a memorandum dealing in seriatim with the various objections raised by the petitioners and setting out the government’s findings thereon. After considering the same and hearing the counsel at length, the High Court, by a detailed order, dismissed the write petitions by its order dated December 12, 1990. The objectors have thereupon filed these two petitions for leave to appeal before us.

2. The limitations, or more appropriately, the self-imposed restrictions of a court in considering such an issue as this have been set out by the Court in Rural Litigation & Entitlement Kendra v. Star of U.P. and Sachidanand Pandey v. State of W.B. The observations in those decisions need not be reiterated here. It is sufficient to observe that it is primarily for the governments concerned to consider the importance of public projects for the betterment of the conditions of living of the people on the one hand and the necessity for preservation of social and ecological balances, avoidance of deforestation and maintenance of purity of the atmosphere and water free from pollution on the other in the light of various factual, technical and other aspects that may be brought to its notice by various bodies of laymen, experts and public workers and strike a just balance between these two conflicting objectives. The court’s role is restricted to examine whether the government has taken into account all relevant aspects and has neither ignored nor overlooked any material considerations nor been influenced by extraneous or immaterial considerations in arriving at its final decision.

3. Having regard to the fact that the High Court, after giving a fresh opportunity to the objectors to have their objections considered, has gone into the matter in depth and found nothing wrong with the decision of the government, the scope for any interference by this Court under Article 136 is indeed very narrow. However, as the project involved is a very vital one for the citizens of Bombay and its suburbs and the petitioner claim that the decision of the government was arrived at in disregard of certain guidelines prescribed and the recommendations of an expert committee set up by the Union Government itself, we have looked into the matter in detail. Sri Atul setalvad, Sri Gopal Subramaniam and Sri G.S. Patel who appeared for the objectors and Shri Ashok Desai who appeared for respondents have taken us through considerable portions of the several paper books filed by them. We have also heard the standing counsel for the State. We have come to the conclusion that there are no grounds to grant leave to appeal from the order passed by the High Court.

4. We may observe that there is no material before us to show that the conditions imposed while granting sanctions are being relaxed without proper advertence to the consequences. So far as the present allegation regarding the FGD plant is concerned however, it is not denied that the company has asked for dispensing with the requirements at this stage. Sri Ashok Desai submits that this has been done on the basis of findings of the World Bank that, having regard to the nature and quality of the coal proposed to be used as could be seen from the analysis made available, the immediate installation of a FGD plant may not be necessary. It has been suggested that the plant could be designed in such a way that it found necessary the FGD plant could be installed at a later date. Shri Ashok Desai also submits that the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, which have been promulgated on August 30, 1990, also envisage a policy of increasing the stack height so that contamination by emission of gases at ground level might be minimized. He submits that there is not reason for the petitioners to anticipate any relaxation of this condition if it will be harmful to environmental interests. We do not wish to say anything more at this stage on this issue except to say that the condition regarding an FGD plant has been imposed under the government sanction and this has to be adhered to by the company. Whether it has to be relaxed or not in future will be a matter which has to be tackled when the application is made in this behalf and considered by the Central Government. But, we think, some safeguard should be provided in this regard which we indicate below.

5. For the reasons discussed above, we are satisfied that the clearance to the thermal power station was granted by the Central Government after fully considering all relevant aspects and in particular the aspects of the environmental pollution. Sufficient safeguards against pollution of air, water and environment have been insisted upon in the conditions of grant. However, in order to allay the apprehensions on the part of the petitioners that the company may seek and obtain relaxations or modifications of the condition that may prove detrimental to environment, we direct the condition requiring the installation of a FGD plant should not be relaxed without a full consideration of the consequences and that, if there is any proposal from the company to relax this or any other condition subject to which the plant has been cleared, neither the State Government nor the Union Government should permit such relaxation without giving notice of the proposed changes to the petitioner groups and giving them an opportunity of being heard.

6. Subject to the directions contained in sub-pars (4) and (6) above we agree with the decision of the High Court and dismiss these special leave petitions. We make no order regarding costs.

M. C. Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu

Air 1991 Supreme Court 417

Writ Petition (Civil) No. 465 of 1986, D/-31-10-1990

Ranganath Misra C.J. and M. H. Kania, J.

(A) Employment of Children Act (26 of 1938), S.3 - Constitution of India, Art. 32 - Child labour - Match factory - Employment connected with manufacturing process - Not to be given to children - They can however be employed in packing process - Packing must be done in area away from place of manufacture.

Factories Act (63 of 1948), S. 67.

Child labour - Employment in match factory - Restriction on.

(Paras 5, 7)

(B) Constitution of India, Art. 32 - Child labour - Employed in packing process of match factory - Minimum wages - At least 60% of prescribed minimum wage for adult employee doing same job to be given to child in view of special adaptability of child's tender hand to such work.

Minimum Wages Act (11 of 1948), S. 3

Employment of Children Act (26 of 1938), S. 3.

Child labour - Employed for packing process in match factory - Minimum wage.

(Para 7)

(C) Constitution of India, Art. 32 - Child labour - Employed in match factory - Facility for education, general as well as job oriented, and recreation must be given - State Govt. directed to create welfare fund for this purpose.

Employment of Children Act (26 of 1938), S. 3.

(Paras 8, 9)

(D) Constitution of India, Art. 32 - Child labour - Employed in match factory - Facilities for recreation and medical attention - State Govt. directed to ensure provision of additional facilities on this score - Children to be provided basic diet during working period.

Employment of Children Act (26 of 1938), S. 3.

(Para 10)

(E) Constitution of India, Art. 32 - Hazardous employment - Match factory - Employees of - To be compulsorily insured for a sum of Rs. 50,000 - Premium to be paid by employers as a condition of service.

Insurance - Compulsory insurance - Hazardous employment - Match factory.

Hazardous employment - Match factory - Employees to be compulsorily insured.

(Para 11)

ORDER: - This petition under Art. 32 of the Constitution has been brought before this Court by way of a Public Interest Litigation and is connected with the problem of employment of children in Match factories of Sivakasi in Kamaraj District of Tamil Nadu State. On notice the State has filed its return.

2. Sivakasi has been the traditional centre for manufacture of match boxes and fire works for almost the whole country and a part of its output is even exported. From the affidavit of the State it appears that as on December 31, 1985, there were 221 registered match factories in the area employing 27338 workmen of whom 2941 were children. We would have been happy to have updated particulars but for disposal of this case total figure and the proportion between adult workmen and children perhaps may be taken as the foundation.

3. The manufacturing process of matches and fire works is hazardous one. Judicial notice can be taken of the fact that almost every year, notwithstanding improved techniques and special care taken, accidents including fatal cases occur. Working conditions in the match factories are such that they involve health hazards in normal course and apart from the special risk involved in the process of manufacturing, the adverse effect on health is a serious problem. Exposure of tender aged to these hazards requires special attention.

4. It is a fact that the problem has been in existence for over half a century, if not earlier, and no appropriate attention has been focused on it either by the Government or the public. We are, therefore, thankful to Mr. Mehta for having brought this matter before the Court for receiving judicial consideration.

5. We are of the view that employment of children within the match factories directly connected with the manufacturing process upto final production of match sticks or fireworks should not at all be permitted. Art. 39 (f) of the Constitution provides ‘that the State should direct its policy towards securing that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.'

6. The spirit of the Constitution perhaps is that children should not be employed in factories as childhood is the formative period and in terms of Art. 45 they are meant to be subjected to free and compulsory education until they complete the age of 14 years. The provision of Art. 45 in the Directive Principles of State Policy has still remained a far cry and though according to this provision all children up to the age of 14 years are supposed to be in school, economic necessity forces grown up children to seek employment.

7. Children can, therefore, be employed in the process of packing but packing should be done in an area away from the place of manufacture to avoid exposure to accident. We are also of the view and learned counsels on both sides have agreed that minimum wage for child labour should be fixed. We take note of the fact that the tender hands of the young workers are more suited to sorting out the manufactured product and process it for the purposes of packing. We are, therefore, of the opinion that in consideration of their special adaptability at least 60% of the prescribed minimum wage for an adult employee in the factories doing the same job should be given to them. Our indicating the minimum wage does not stand in the way of prescription of a higher rate if the State is satisfied that a higher rate is viable.

8. It is necessary that special facilities for providing the quality of life of children should be provided. This would require facility for education, scope for recreation as also providing opportunity for socialisation. Facility for general education as also job oriented education should be available and the school time should be so adjusted that employment is not affected.

9. We are happy to notice that the learned counsel for the State of Tamil Nadu has suggested the creation of a Welfare Fund to which the registered match factories can be asked to contribute. Government can decide as to whether contribution should be at a fixed rate per factory or made commensurate to the volume of production. Learned counsel for the State of Tamil Nadu has agreed that the State would be ready to contribute a matching grant to the Fund and even if necessary, a little more funds could be provided so that facilities for education and recreation can be provided for the children working in the factories. We direct that the State of Tamil Nadu shall take appropriate steps in the matter of creating the welfare fund and finalising the method of contribution and collection thereof so that the welfare fund may be set up by 1st January, 1991. The matching contribution by the State can be put into the fund by the end of the financial year 1990-91 so that the consolidated money would be available for implementing welfare scheme.

10. Under the Factories Act there is a statutory requirement for providing facilities for recreation and medical attention. The State of Tamil Nadu is directed to enforce these two aspects so that the basic requirements are attended to. We have been told by learned counsel for the State that mobile medical vans have been provided by UNICEF and are regularly coming to the area. He has told us further that four mobile vans are likely to be provided. The State is directed to take immediate steps to ensure provision of additional facilities on this score. Attention may be given to ensure provision of a basic diet during the working period and medical care with a view to ensuring sound physical growth.

11. We are of the opinion that compulsory insurance scheme should be provided for both adult and children employees taking into consideration the hazardous nature of employment. The State of Tamil Nadu shall ensure that every employee working in these match factories is insured for a sum of Rs. 50,000/- and the Insurance Corporation, if contacted should come forward with a viable group insurance scheme to cover the employees in the match factories of Sivakasi area. The premium for the group insurance policy should be the liability of the employer to meet as a condition of service.

12. Though we are disposing of this petition with these directions we are cognisant of the position that all the problems relating to employment of children are not covered by the present directions. We leave it open either to Mr. Mehta or some other agency to move the Court as and when necessary for further order.

13. We require that there shall be a committee to oversee all our directions and it shall consist of the District Judge of the area, the District Magistrate of Kamaraj district, a public activist operating in the area, a representative of the employees and local labour officer. The State of Tamil Nadu is directed to deposit Rs. 3,000/- in the Registrar of this Court within four weeks for being given to Mr. Mehta for meeting his expenses.

Order accordingly.

M.C. Mehta v. Union of India

AIR 1991 Supreme Court 1132

Writ Petition No. 13029 of 1985, D/-14-11-1990

Ranganath Misra, C.J., M. N. Venkatachaliah and A. M. Ahmadi, JJ.

Motor Vehicles Act (59 of 1988), Ss. 27, 110 - Central Motor Vehicles Rules (1989), Rules 115 (6), 126, 127 - Pollution control - Rules 115 (g), 126, 127 directed to be made operative from 1-4-1991 - Directions given to Delhi Administration for supplying particulars of prosecution launched and suspension of registration of vehicles with classification as to whether vehicle belongs to Central Government or Public Sector etc. - Further suggested that effectiveness of device invented by a Research Institute to reduce pollution content should be tested.

(Paras 3, 4, 5)

Order: - We have seen the affidavit of the Ministry of Environment and have heard Mr. M.C. Mehta, petitioner in-person and learned Attorney General for the Union of India. From the affidavit we find that the Ministry of Environment accepts the position that pollution in Delhi is mainly on account of the high rise in the number of vehicles driven by petrol and diesel operating within the Delhi and New Delhi areas. As a measure of control, it has been stated in the affidavit that several prosecutions have been launched. Registration of vehicles found to be defective has been suspended.

2. Learned Attorney-General accepts the position that mere institution of prosecutions or suspension of registration would not be effective measures to meet the menace of pollution caused by the automobiles operating in the area. The affidavit has mentioned about the proposal of a massive program of educating the pliers of automobiles about the care to be taken and attention bestowed in the matter of negating or reducing the polluting factor. Success of this move would depend upon the scale, the frequency and the manner in which this is carried on. It has been further pointed out that some of the relevant Rules which could contribute to making the control effective like R. 115 (6) and Rr. 126 and 127 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, have not yet been brought into force. The Rules relating to controlling of pollution seem to form one comprehensive scheme and bringing some of them into force while leaving others out would not really bring about any effective result. Learned Attorney-General has, therefore, submitted that all these Rules would be noted for being brought into force for specified dates.

3. We are of the view that the heavy vehicles operating in the city being the buses, trucks and defence vehicles constitute the main contributing factor to pollution. It is necessary, therefore, that more of attention is directed against these vehicles. Particulars of the prosecution said to have been undertaken should be made available to the Court so that the Court would be in a position to appreciate the steps taken and to what extent this measure is effective. We, therefore, direct the Delhi Administration to place before the Court a complete list of the prosecution launched against the vehicles for causing pollution by infringement of the various requirements of the law with particular reference to the vehicles, nature of the vehicles, dates of prosecution, the nature of offences for which prosecutions have been launched and the result, if any, of such prosecutions from 1-4-1990. Similarly, particulars of the vehicles registration of which is said to have been suspended must be provided with specific mention of the nature of the vehicle and a brief indication as to why suspension has been directed. Follow up action after suspension must also be indicated, if anything has been done.

4. In supplying the particulars of the two categories, namely, prosecutions and suspension, the classification as to whether the vehicles belong to the Delhi Administration or the Central Government or the public sector undertaking and/or the public transport system should be specified. Rules 115 (6), 126 and 127 should be made operative from 1-4-1991.

5. Mr. Mehta says that the National Environment Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur has brought out a device which would reduce the pollution content and the Ministry of Environment is aware of this fact. We suggest that the Environment Ministry should carry out appropriate experiments with the aid of the same device to find out its effectiveness within two months from today and in case it is found to be effective, steps should be taken to ensure that every vehicle to be manufactured after a particular date—may be from 1st April or 1st July, keeping the particular facts in view, to have that device as an in-built mechanism to reduce pollution. Whether vehicles which have already been operating can also adopt the said device should also be examined and in case that also is found feasible, the Environment Ministry should place the material for consideration of this Court. We direct peremptory compliance of this order. The matter be listed in the 3rd week of January, 1991.

Order accordingly.

M/s. Ajay Constructions v. Kakateeya Nagar Co-operative Housing Society Ltd.

AIR 1991 Andhra Pradesh 294

Writ Appeals Nos. 811 and 1338 of 1989, D/-22-4-1991

Sardar Ali Khan and M. N. Rao, JJ.

A. P. Urban Areas (Development) Act (1975), S. 15 – A. P. Municipalities Act (1965), S. 150 – Building permit – Multi-storeyed construction – Builder should comply strictly with approved plans for drainage system – Discharge of effluent – Permission by Municipality to connect sewerage pipe line of disputed construction to underground municipal pipe line – Environment Pollution – Violation of permit condition granted by urban development authority – Permission was illegal.

Environment pollution – Discharge of offensive material from premises.

Municipality – Multi-storeyed building – Connection to sewerage line – Permission.

Multi-storeyed construction – Connection of sewerage pipe line – Permission.

Torts – Discharge of effluent from premises.

Pratibha Co-Operative Housing Society Ltd. v. State of Maharashtra

1991 Supreme Court Cases (3) 341

N.M. Kasliwal and M.M. Punchhi, JJ.

KASLIWAL, J. - This petition under Article 136 of the Constitution of India is directed against the order of Bombay High Court dated March 9, 1990.

2. Facts necessary and shorn of details are given as under. Pratibha Co-operative Housing Society Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Housing Society’) made some unauthorised constructions in a 36 storeyed building in a posh and important locality of the city of Bombay. The Bombay Municipal Corporation issued a show cause notice dated August 7, 1984 calling upon the Housing Society to show cause within 7 days as to why the upper eight floors of the building should not be demolished so as to limit the development to the permissible Floor Space Index (FSI). In the notice it was stated that additional FSI to the extent of 2773 Sq. mts. was gained by the Housing Society and that the construction work had already reached 36 floors and that on the basis of the actual area of the building, the upper eight floors were beyond the permissible FSI limit and as such were required to be removed. The Housing Society submitted a reply to the show cause notice by their letter dated August 13, 1984. The administrator of the Bombay Municipal Corporation made an order on September 21, 1984 requiring the Housing Society to demolish 24,000 Sq. ft. on the eight upper floors of the building on the basis of 3000 sq. ft. on each floor. The Housing Society made a representation but the same was dismissed by the Administrator by order dated October 31, 1984. An appeal submitted by the Housing Society was also dismissed by the State Government on October 7, 1985. The Housing Society then filed a Writ Petition No. 4500 of 1985 in the High Court. A Division bench of the High Court dismissed the writ petition on October 28, 1985. However, the High Court while dismissing the writ petition also observed as under:

It would. however, be fair and just in the circumstances of the case to give a choice to the society to reduce the construction up to permissible limit or whatever other method they can think of. It is of course for the society to come forward with proposal in that behalf. We therefore direct that in case the society comes with any such alternative proposal within the four corners of the rules and regulations within one month from today the municipality may consider”.

The case of the Housing Society is that in pursuance to the said order it submitted application to the Municipal Corporation giving several alternative proposals on November 21, 1985. It may be noted at this stage that the Housing Society had preferred a Special Leave Petition No. 17351 of 1985 before this Court against the judgement of the High Court dated October 28, 1985 and the said special leave petition was dismissed by this Court on January 17, 1986. Further allegation of the Housing Society was that it submitted another proposal to the Municipal Corporation on February 17, 1986 and thereafter wrote to the Municipal Council on August 14, 1986 to consider their alternative proposals. A similar letter was also written to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. On August 29, 1986 the Municipal Commissioner fixed up a meeting for hearing the alternative proposals of the Housing Society. It has been alleged that in the said meeting the Housing Society had put forward its case in support of the new proposals and the Municipal Commissioner had thereafter informed the Housing Society that he would consider the said proposals and take decision. However, no decision was taken till the filing of the present special leave petition before this Court. It has been further alleged that on December 27, 1988 the Housing Society wrote a letter to the Municipal Commissioner to consider the alternative proposals mainly of vertical demolition of the building instead of demolishing the eight upper floors. It has been alleged that a meeting took place between the architects of the Housing Society as well as the officers of the Municipal Corporation in January 1989 wherein the officers of the Corporation agreed that instead of demolishing eight upper floors, demolition can be made vertically so as to bring the entire construction within the permissible FSI. It has been further alleged that immediately thereafter the Housing Society was informed that henceforth it should contact the Municipal Commissioner directly and not any officers of the Corporation. It has been further alleged that the Corporation without considering the proposal of the Housing Society entrusted the work of demolition of the upper eight floors of the building to a company. In these circumstances the Housing Society filed Writ Petition No. 3016 of 1989 in the High Court. Learned Single Judge dismissed the writ petition by order dated December 19, 1989 'and the appeal preferred against the said order was dismissed by the Division Bench of the High Court by order dated March 9, 1990.

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