The Indian judiciary demonstrated willingness to exercise its power whenever the political/executive organs of the state failed to discharge their constitutional obligations effectively. This willingness has been often termed as ‘judicial activism’. Around 1980, the Indian legal system, particularly the field of environmental law, underwent a sea change in terms of discarding its moribund approach and instead, charting out new horizons of social justice. This period was characterized not only by administrative and legislative activism but also judicial activism. A subset of this has been environmental activism, which has developed in India in a very major way. One of the reasons for judicial activism in specific environmental cases has been the relaxation of the rule of locus standi giving a chance to the public to approach the Court under Articles 32 and 226 of the Indian Constitution. Also, the recognition of environmental rights as a ‘fundamental right’ under Article 21 (Right to Life) of the Indian Constitution has given a constitutional sanctity to the right to enjoy a clean and healthy environment.
Monday, February 17, 2014
Amit Singh recently posted "Judicial Activism on Environment in India". The abstract:
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
The Bulletin for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies has posted "Water as a Collective Responsibility: The Tribunal de las Aguas and the Valencian Community", by Julia Hudson-Richards and Cynthia Gonzales. (Thanks to Lior Ben David for bringing it to my attention.) The abstract:
Bernardo Ferrándiz, Tribunal de las Aguas (1865)
In this article, we argue that the Tribunal de las Aguas, historically part of a larger complex of irrigation communities, provides a foundation for an alternative model of water management, and has survived for over a thousand years precisely because it answers the community’s needs, and contributes to Valencian regional identity. As research has recently shown in African cases, providing education, infrastructure, and management opportunities to local communities helps to encourage both sustainability and direct involvement in water distribution, contrary to the impersonal distribution characteristic of privatized systems. The Tribunal de las Aguas has transcended tremendous political, social, and economic change in Spain in general, and Valencia in particular, and remains an important facet of local identity. As water issues become more and more pressing in the face of climate change, pollution, and seemingly insatiable demand, we will need to find more creative and innovative ways to address the often conflicting demands on this most valuable resource. Furthermore, the gendered aspects of water rights and distribution continue to play such a significant role in our global water cultures, and our article will contribute to a larger discussion of women’s roles in irrigation and water use in different historical contexts.
The Tribunal today
Thursday, January 9, 2014
By way of Juris Diversitas, I came across Nicholas Humphrey's "Bugs and Beasts Before the Law" on The Public Domain Review. Discussing The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals by E.P.Evans (1906), Humphrey writes:
Evans’ book details more than two hundred such cases: sparrows being prosecuted for chattering in Church, a pig executed for stealing a communion wafer, a cock burnt at the stake for laying an egg. As I read my eyes grew wider and wider. Why did no one tell us this at school? Why were we taught so many dreary facts of history at school, and not taught these?
We all know how King Canute attempted to stay the tide at Lambeth; but who has heard, for example, of the solemn threats made against the tides of locusts which threatened to engulf the countryside of France and Italy? The Pied Piper, who charmed the rats from Hamelin is a part of legend; but who has heard of Bartholomew Chassenée, a French jurist of the sixteenth century, who made his reputation at the bar as the defence counsel for some rats? The rats had been put on trial in the ecclesiastical court on the charge of having “feloniously eaten up and wantonly destroyed” the local barley. When the culprits did not in fact turn up in court on the appointed day, Chassenée made use of all his legal cunning to excuse them. They had, he urged in the first place, probably not received the summons since they moved from village to village; but even if they had received it they were probably too frightened to obey, since as everyone knew they were in danger of being set on by their mortal enemies the cats. On this point Chassenée addressed the court at some length, in order to show that if a person be cited to appear at a place to which he cannot come in safety, he may legally refuse. The judge, recognising the justice of this claim, but being unable to persuade the villagers to keep their cats indoors, was obliged to let the matter drop.
The outcome of these trials was not inevitable. In doubtful cases the courts appear in general to have been lenient, on the principle of “innocent until proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt”. In 1587, a gang of weevils, accused of damaging a vineyard, were deemed to have been exercising their natural rights to eat – and, in compensation, were granted a vineyard of their own.