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High Court: Ganga & Yamuna Rivers are ‘Living Persons’ with Legal Rights

March,21,2017:

Ganga & Yamuna Rivers
Ganga & Yamuna Rivers

Bench passed a Decree for preservation and conservation of the two rivers.

In a first of its kind order in the country, the high court  of Uttarakhand has on Monday issued a decree that the the Ganga and the Yamuna Rivers as well as their tributaries and sister bodies be declared “legal and living entities”.

They are also ordered to be having the status of a legal person with all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities.

The Division Bench said that it was necessary to ensure “preservation and conservation of the two rivers and to protect the recognition and faith of society” in them.

A Bench of Justices Alok Singh and Rajiv Sharma observed that “an extraordinary situation has arisen in the Country since the two rivers Ganga and the Yamuna are losing their very existence.”

The Decree would legally mean that if anyone was cought polluting either the rivers, it would amount to causing a harm akin to a human being.

The court has through this Decree recognised ‘fifth generation rights’ which are not limited to humans but now extend to the habitat as well.

Senior lawyer K H Gupta said that the order will give a totally new dimension to the laws which have been framed for protection of the environment.

Almost on the same lines just a few days ago a landmark bill was passed in New Zealand for making the Whanganui river, which is revered by the indigenous Maori people, as the first River in the world to be recognised as a living entity with full legal rights.

The Judgement noted that neither the state of UP nor the state of Uttarakhand are serious on the issue and are not cooperating with the central government for the constitution of Ganga Management Board.

The Bench directed the central government to constitute the Ganga Management Board and make it functional “within a period of three months.

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