In order to maintain and safeguard Mother Nature, the Madras High Court has invoked the “parens patriae jurisdiction” to declare her a living being with all of the rights, obligations, and liabilities that come with being a living person.
When dealing with a petition from a former Tahsildar-level official who sought to quash disciplinary proceedings against him for allegedly granting patta (land deed) for government land classified as “Forest Poramboke Land” to certain individuals, the Madurai bench of the HC placed great emphasis on environmental conservation.
The court observed that indiscriminate destruction of environment will generate numerous issues in the eco system and endanger the life of flora and fauna, in response to a petition filed by A Periyakarupan of Theni, who was ordered to go on compulsory retirement.
Justice S Srimathy recalled an earlier judgement where the Uttarakhand High Court had used “parens patriae jurisdiction” (parent of the nation jurisdiction) to declare the glaciers, including the Gangotri and Yamunotri rivers, as legal entities in order to preserve and safeguard them.
The court also ordered the state and cental government to take all necessary efforts to protect Mother Earth in whatever way they can.
“The past generations have handed over the ‘Mother Earth’ to us in its pristine glory and we are morally bound to hand over the same Mother Earth to the next generation. It is right time to declare/confer juristic status to the “Mother Nature”. Therefore, this Court by invoking “parens patriae jurisdiction”, (parent of the nation jurisdiction) is hereby declaring the “Mother Nature” as a “Living Being” having legal entity/ legal person/ juristic person/ juridical person/ moral person/ artificial person having the status of a legal person, with all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person, in order to preserve and conserve them.”
“They are also accorded the rights akin to fundamental rights/legal rights/constitutional rights for their survival, safety, sustenance and resurgence in order to maintain its status and also to promote their health and wellbeing. The State Government and the Central Government are directed to protect the “Mother Nature” and take appropriate steps to protect Mother Nature in all possible ways,” the court said.
The petitioner had asked for the disciplinary procedures to be dismissed and for the respondents to provide him a full pension and death-cum-retirement gratuity (DCRG) with arrears dating back to his retirement date, plus 7.5 percent interest.
He claimed he was suspended because he granted patta for forest land on the directives of his superiors. The judge stated that the issue of forest land deeds should be investigated at all levels because it jeopardised the existence of flora and wildlife, forests, water bodies, mountains, glaciers, air, and humanity.
“The sentence ought to be modified,” the judge observed, because the patta given in regard of the land in question in Meghamalai was cancelled and the required entries in the village accounts were made.
“Therefore, this Court is of the considered opinion that the punishment of compulsory retirement ought to be modified as stoppage of increment for six months without cumulative effect and consequential monetary benefits shall be conferred on the petitioner,” the court observed.
The court concluded that the punishment of co-delinquent were annulled or reduced, the entries were also amended, and pattas were cancelled, appropriate action was required because the area in question was categorised as “Forest Land.”