According to the bench, any person causing any injury and harm, intentionally or unintentionally to the Himalayas, glaciers, rivers, streams, rivulets, lakes, air, meadows, dales, jungles and forests is liable to be proceeded against under the common law, penal laws, environmental laws and other statutory enactments governing the field.
One week after declaring rivers Ganga and Yamuna as legal/juristic persons, the Uttarakhand High Court on Friday declared glaciers, including Gangotri and Yamunotri; rivers, streams, rivulets, lakes, air, meadows, dales, jungles, forests wetlands, grasslands, springs and waterfalls as legal/juristic persons.
A bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Alok Singh observed that past generations handed over Mother Earth to us in its pristine glory and we were morally bound to hand over the same Mother Earth to the next generation.
Explaining the concept of ‘juristic person’, the bench said a juristic person, like any other natural person, is in law also conferred with rights and obligations and is dealt with in accordance with law.
“In other words, the entity acts like a natural person, but only through a designated person. For a bigger thrust of socio-political-scientific development, evolution of a fictional personality to be a juristic person becomes inevitable. This may be any entity, living inanimate, objects or things. It may be a religious institution or any such useful unit which may impel the Courts to recognise it,” it said.
The bench held that the Himalayan mountain ranges, glaciers, rivers, streams, rivulets, lakes, jungles, air, forests, meadows, dales, wetlands, grasslands and springs are required to be declared as the legal entity/ legal person/ juristic person/juridical person/ moral person/ artificial person for their survival, safety, sustenance and resurgence.
The bench issued the following directions in the matter: