In Supreme Court of India
1987 AIR 1109, 1987 SCR (2) 223
Indian Council For Environment Legal
Union of India & ors.
Date of Judgement
13 Feb. 1996
Justice O. Chinnappa Reddy, Justice V. Khalid[i]
1. This case is known as the town planning case. In this case the Government of West Bengal grants lease to the Taj Group for 4 acres land belonging to Calcutta Zoo logical Garden for the establishment of 5 star hotels.
2. This giving away of this 4 acre land to the Taj group challenged by the PIL petition by the Secretary of the union of workmen of zoological garden and the live member of zoo.
3. Appeal was made in the Supreme court regarding the construction of this hotel which led to the disturbance to animals in the zoo and disturb the ecology of the greenery and the plants will to be disappeared as a adverse effect.
4. Secretary expressed its opposition to the proposal of construction of a hotel on land of zoo. The Committee’s objections were twofold :
a. A multi-storied building in the vicinity of the zoo will disturb the animals and the ecological balance and will affect the bird migration
b. the land was already used for various purposes, that is, fodder cultivation, burial ground for animals, hospital, operation theatre, quarantine area, post-mortem room and nursery.
5. According to the Committee , it is impossible to accommodate these essential services within the campus of the main zoo.
6. The allegations made by the Managing Committee were first brought up before Minister for Metropolitan Development who submitted a note to the Chief Minister pointing out the same issue.
7. The Chief Minister after bring the allegations stated that these facilities were necessary for the zoo.
8. After that , the Managing Committee reversed its earlier stand and agreed to the proposal on the assurance that adjacent land and matching grants would be given to the zoo.
9. On the Basis of all the contention made by the appellant and respondent the court came to the conclusion that allegations made by the appellant was baseless and the court dismissed the writ petition.
Issues raised in the case:-
- Whether the respondent is liable for the creation of environmental pollution?
- Whether the assumption made by the central government is justificable?
Dr. L. M. Singhvi, learned counsel on the behalf of appellants made the following submissions before the court : Begumbari land was statutorily vested in the Managing Committee of the Zoological Garden. It was further contended that the land should not be leased to the Taj Group of Hotels without giving invitation to the tender from volunteers and without following the the requirements of paragraphs 166 and 167 of the land Manual.The decision was taken by the authority without considering the adverse impact on the zoo and without consulting various interested authorities and institutions. Alike the Director of the zoo, the Managing Committee of the zoo, the Public Undertakings Committee of West Bengal, the Indian Wild Life Board, leading ornithologists of the country etc. Opposes the approval given to the Taj Group of Hotels. These persons and institutions had gave several reasons for the disapproval, and none of them were taken into account by the Government.Attention was not given by the government to this matter for the objections as the Cabinet Memorandum ignored such objections.According to the learnt counsel it was submitted that the decision was wrong taken by the government as it was based on only assumptions. And the assumptions was made without proper enquiry and investigation. According to the appellant the loss of environmental destruction is too high to be refunded. Furthermore , the terms were detrimental to the public revenue which are considered for granting the lease of land.
On the other hand, Shri Dipankar Gupta, learned counsel for the Taj Group of Hotels and Shri Gooptu learned counsel for the State of West Bengal pleaded that that landscaping was designed to encourage tourism at would not disturb any of the ecology system. Along with this it improve the surroundings of the place. For this the court favours the Stand and asserted by honorable judge Justice Chinnapa Reddy
Justice Chinnapa Reddy said that “Obviously, if the government is alive to the various consideration requiring thoughts and deliberation as arrived at the conscious decision after taking them into account, it may not be for this court to interfere in the absence of malafide”.
It was also contended that if the dumping ground and the burial ground shifted to some other place that it will be more hygienic. It was explained that there will be no interference to the flight of the visiting birds as the hotel was to be constructed at a distance of 700 feet from the lake and was to rise to a maximum height of 75 feet, being a medium rise and not a high rise . It was also contended that there was going to be an environmental improvement of the area as the dumping ground, burial ground and the semi-dilapidated buildings were to be replaced by a hotel surrounded by broad roads. There was no occasion for the government to invite tenders since the establishment of a five Star hotel was not something which could practicably be undertaken by anyone in that fashion. According to them, it was only be done by conducting negotiation session between the persons.
In this case the honourable judges give decision in favour of the respondent and rejected the prayers made by the appellant . Moreover, the court held that whenever there is a problem of ecology comes before the court, the court is bound to consider Article 48 andArticle 51 A of the Constitution of India. In the face of all this material, court do not observes serious threat to the zoo by the respondent industry. Court is satisfied that the Government of West Bengal acted perfectly in a bona fide manner in issuing the lease of Begumbari land to the Taj Group of Hotels for the construction of a Five Star hotel in Calcutta.
Significance and critical analysis of the judgment :-
According to my view the case was very controversial as it was based upon the power of the court to exercise its duty over the Government decision.Court also asserted that” Public interest is the paramount in all matters Nothing should be done which gives an appearance of bias, jobbery or nepotism.”
In conclusion the court believed that State is the legal the actual owner of the natural resources as a trustee of the people and although it is empowered to distribute the same, the process of distribution must be guided by the constitutional principles including the doctrine of equality and larger public good which according to my view is a prior goal for the guardian of a nation.
[i](1987) 2 SCC 295