The Madras High Court has invoked the parens patriae jurisdiction to declare 'Mother Nature' as a Living Being with all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person, in order to preserve and conserve them.

The Madurai Bench of the High Court in its recent order placed immense importance on conserving nature, while dealing with a petition from a former Tahsildar-level official who sought to quash the disciplinary proceedings against him for allegedly granting patta (land deed) for government land classified as "Forest Poramboke Land" to certain individuals.

Responding to the petition filed by A Periyakarupan of Theni, who was asked to go on compulsory retirement, the Court said indiscriminate destruction of nature will cause several complications in the eco system and endanger the existence of flora and fauna.

Justice S Srimathy relied upon an earlier judgement of the Uttarakhand High Court, where it had invoked parens patriae jurisdiction and declared the glaciers including Gangotri and Yamunotri rivers as legal entities to preserve and conserve them.

The Judge noted that the past generations have handed over Mother Earth in its pristine glory and that we are morally bound to hand over the same 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" 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.", the Court held.

"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 prayed for quashing of disciplinary proceedings and a direction to the respondents to sanction full pension and death-cum-retirement gratuity (DCRG) to him with arrears from the date of retirement with 7.5 per cent interest. He said that he had issued patta for the forest land on the orders of the superiors and he was suspended for the same. The judge said that the issue of deed for forest lands should be checked at all the levels and it endangered the very existence of flora and fauna, forests, water bodies, mountains glaciers air and humans.

The respondents included the Tamil Nadu Principal Revenue Secretary.

The Bench held that since the patta granted in respect of the land in question in Meghamalai was cancelled and the necessary entries made in the village accounts, "the punishment ought to be modified."

The Bench held, "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."

"This punishment is imposed for the act done against mother nature. The respondents are directed to implement this punishment within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of the copy of the order," the Court held.

Click here to read/download Judgment

With PTI inputs