Environmental Law, Policy-Making and Governance

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSHE3ED1064

Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon/ Winter Semester, as required

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr Budhaditya Das

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

Pre-requisites: None

Course Description:

Environmental law and policy is a comparatively newer field of study in India and yet it has significantly shaped the country’s natural and developmental landscape. The course introduces students to the architecture of legislations and policies governing India’s environment. 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 course will underline the multi-scalar nature of environmental governance and discuss the role of formal institutions, local and global communities in managing forests, water resources, biodiversity and ecosystems. 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.

Course objectives/ Learning outcomes:

  1. To familiarise with the varied conceptions and dimensions of justice, including social and environmental justice
  2. To study the environmental laws in India, including their objectives, structure and methods of regulation, and their limitations
  3. To study connections between democracy, development and environmental protection in post-colonial India
  4. To understand concepts that are central to environmental governance, including property, participation, common property resources and decentralisation

Brief Description of Main Sections

Unit 1: Justice

In this unit, students will be introduced to the idea of justice, and its connections with liberty, equality, rights and fraternity. The conception of justice that emerges from a critical reading of India’s Constitution (in particular, the part on Fundamental Rights) will be discussed in the light of theories and theorists of justice within political studies. Through case studies and landmark judgments of the Supreme Court, the unit will outline how normative conceptions of social and environmental justice have shaped environmental law and jurisprudence in India.

Key Readings

  • Berlin, Isaiah. (2002). Two Concepts of Liberty, in Hardy, Henry (Edited), Liberty: Isaiah Berlin. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Dobson, Andrew (Edited). (2002). Fairness and Futurity: Essays on Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Fraser, Nancy. (1996). Social Justice in the Age of Identity Politics: Redistribution, Recognition and Participation (The Tanner Lectures on Human Values). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Government of India. (2015). The Constitution of India. New Delhi: Legislative Department, Ministry of Law and Justice.
  • PratapBhanu Mehta (Edited). (2016). The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution. Delhi: Oxford University Press
  • 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.

Unit 2: State and Governance

Through classroom discussions and readings, the unit will discuss the theoretical foundations and empirical studies of the state, with reference to the Global South. The unit will focus on the scholarship within anthropology and political science which theorises the contentious relations between state, citizens and civil society. The unit will focus on those formal and state institutions that are involved in environmental governance, including community institutions, forest and land bureaucracies, and pollution control boards. The unit will critically examine processes of decentralisation, participation and democratic decision-making within the context of natural resource management and governance.

Key Readings

  • Agrawal, Arun and Maria Carmen Lemos.(2007). A Greener Revolution in the Making? Environmental Governance in the 21st Century, Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 49(5), pp. 36—45.
  • Gupta, Akhil. (1995). Blurred Boundaries: The Discourse of Corruption, the Culture of Politics and the Imagined State. American Ethnologist, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 375—402.
  • Jodha, N.S. (1990). Rural Common Property Resources: Contributions and Crisis, Economic and Political Weekly, June 30, pp. A-65—A-78.
  • Lele, Sharachchandra and AjitMenon (Editors). (2014). Democratizing Forest Governance in India. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  • Lukes, Steven. (2005). Power: A Radical View (Second Edition). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Sikor, Thomas and Christian Lund (Editors). (2009). The Politics of Possession: Property, Authority and Access to Natural Resources. Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.

Unit III: Laws and Jurisprudence

The final unit of the course discusses the national, sub-national legislations and jurisprudence that has developed around environmental concerns in India in the last five decades. Laws around air and water pollution, forests and biodiversity conservation will be critically examined in terms of their objectives, regulatory methods and limitations. Appellate court judgments will be analysed for their attempts to secure environmental and social justice for marginalised groups, such as the urban poor and forest-dependent communities. Judicial innovations like Public Interest Litigations (PILs) and institutions like the National Green Tribunal will be discussed for their role in (re)shaping the politics of environmental governance.

Key Readings

  • Divan, Shyam and Armin Rosencranz. (2001). Environmental Law and Policy in India: Cases, Materials and Statutes. Delhi: Oxford University Press
  • Kamala Sankaran and Ujjwal Kumar Singh (Edited). (2008). Towards Legal Literacy: An Introduction to Law in India. Delhi: Oxford University Press
  • Sahasranaman, P.B. (2009). Handbook of Environmental Law. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  • Menon, Nivedita. (2014). Environment and the Will to Rule: Supreme Court and Public Interest Litigation in the 1990s, in Mayur Suresh and SiddharthNarrain (Editors),The Shifting Scales of Justice. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan.
  • Sahu, Geetanjoy. (2014). Environmental Jurisprudence and the Supreme Court: Litigation, Interpretation, Implementation. Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan
  • Sivaramakrishnan, K. (2011). Environment, Law and Democracy in India, The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 70, No. 4, pp. 905—928.
  • Upadhyay, Videh. (2000). Changing Judicial Power: Courts on Infrastructure Projects and Environment, Economic and Political Weekly, 35 (43/44).