Environmental Law ,Policies, and Governance

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSHE2ED1054

Semester and Year Offered: 2nd Semester; 1st Year

Course Coordinator and Team : Dr Budhaditya Das

Email of course coordinator: budhaditya[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: None

Course Description:

The course introduces students to the architecture of legislations and policies governing India’s environment. Environmental law is a comparatively newer field of law in India and yet it has significantly shaped the country’s natural and developmental landscape.

The first unit of the course will discuss the normative and conceptual underpinnings of environmental law and jurisprudence. It will draw upon the Constitution of India as a living document and outline the ways in which the legislature and the judiciary have relied on it while trying to conserve the biophysical environment.

The second unit of the course will underline the multi-scalar nature of environmental governance and discuss the role of formalinstitutions, local and global communities in managing forests, water resources, biodiversity and ecosystems.

The final unit of the course will focus on the key legislations that regulate actions of state, market and non-market actors vis-à-vis the environment. The critical role of India’s judiciary in shaping the field of environmental governance will be discussed, through public interest litigations (PILs) and landmark judgments.

Learning Objectives:

  1. To understand the concepts of liberty, equality and rights and their place within the Constitution of India
  2. To familiarise with the varied conceptions and dimensions of justice, including social and environmental justice
  3. To study the environmental laws in India, including their objectives, structure and methods of regulation, and their limitations
  4. To study connections between democracy, development and environmental protection in post-colonial India
  5. To understand the role of the judiciary and quasi-judicial bodies in environmental protection
  6. Learn legal research in the context of environmental governance and jurisprudence

Course Outcomes:

On the successful of completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the basic structure of the state and Indian Constitution, including key features like separation of powers and fundamental rights.
  2. Read and understand basic legal terminology and legal reasoning.
  3. Understand and interpret the structure of environmental laws as well as judgments of appellate courts in cases pertaining to the environment.
  4. Explain concepts that are central to environmental governance, including participation, common property resources and decentralisation
  5. Describe key mechanisms and processes of environmental governance, such as Environmental Impact Assessment
  6. Critically examine the role and functions of institutions like the pollution control boards, public authorities, National Green Tribunal in environmental protection
  7. Critically analyse a case involving multiple laws and judgments, through normative, constitutional and justice perspectives.

Course Structure

S. No.



Unit I





Equality, Liberty and Rights



Justice: Natural, Social and Environmental



Environment and India’s Constitution

Unit II

State and Governance




State structure in India



Property: Private, Public and Common



Institutions, Commons and Governance



Scales of Governance: Community, Nation and Beyond

Unit III

Laws & Jurisprudence




Environmental Protection Act, 1986



Resources I/ Conservation: Forests and Biodiversity



Resources II/ Contamination: Air and Water



Courts and India’s Environment—I



Courts and India’s Environment—II


Assessment Details with Weights:

  • Memos: 20%
  • In-class activities: 20%
  • End-semester exam: 30%
  • Independent Review and Case study: 30%

Indicative Reading List:

  • Berlin, Isaiah. (2002). Two Concepts of Liberty, in Hardy, Henry (Edited), Liberty: Isaiah Berlin.Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Divan, Shyam and Armin Rosencranz. (2001). Environmental Law and Policy in India:Cases, Materials and Statutes. Delhi: Oxford University Press
  • Fraser, Nancy. (1996). Social Justice in the Age of Identity Politics: Redistribution, Recognition andParticipation (The Tanner Lectures on Human Values). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Government of India. (2015). The Constitution of India. NewDelhi: Legislative Department, Ministry of Law and Justice.
  • Kamala Sankaranand Ujjwal Kumar Singh (Edited). (2008).Towards LegalLiteracy: An Introduction to Law in India. Delhi: Oxford University Press
  • Lele, Sharachchandra and AjitMenon (Editors). (2014). Democratizing Forest Governance in India. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  • PratapBhanu Mehta (Edited). (2016). The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution. Delhi: Oxford University Press
  • Sahasranaman, P.B. (2009). Handbook of Environmental Law. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  • Sahu, Geetanjoy. (2014). Environmental Jurisprudence and the Supreme Court: Litigation, Interpretation, Implementation. Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan
  • Schlosberg, David. (2007). Defining Environmental Justice: Theories, Movements, and Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Sen, Amartya. (2009). The Idea of Justice. Cambridge,Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.