SC Says “Ganga” & “Ya­muna” are le­gal per­son

Libertatem Magazine - - Contents - by Swar­nalee Hal­dar


San­deep Singh Bais v. State of MP (De­cided on 9.3.2017)


On De­cem­ber 5, the court had di­rected the Cen­tre to con­sti­tute the board “and make it func­tional” within “three months”. The States of Ut­tar Pradesh and Ut­tarak­hand have not co­op­er­ated with the Cen­tral Govern­ment to con­sti­tute a Ganga Man­age­ment Board, the Court, in ex­er­cise of its parens pa­triae ju­ris­dic­tion, in or­der to pre­serve and con­serve river Ganga and Ya­muna,


The Court re­ferred to Ganga River as “Ganga Maa” and de­lib­er­ated on the na­ture of God, the Ut­tarak­hand High Court has de­clared Ganga and Ya­muna and their trib­u­taries “ju­ris­tic/le­gal per­sons/liv­ing en­ti­ties hav­ing the sta­tus of a le­gal per­son”. Not­ing that “there is ut­most ex­pe­di­ency to give le­gal sta­tus as a liv­ing per­son/le­gal en­tity to Rivers Ganga and Ya­muna r/w Ar­ti­cles 48-A and 51A(g) of the Con­sti­tu­tion of In­dia, “The judg­ment, which was de­liv­ered Mon­day by the di­vi­sion bench of Jus­tice Ra­jiv Sharma and Jus­tice Alok Singh, came dur­ing the hear­ing of a PIL re­lated to di­vi­sion of prop­er­ties be­tween Ut­tar Pradesh and Ut­tarak­hand. The Court made it clear that, “Rivers Ganga and Ya­muna are breath­ing, liv­ing and sus­tain­ing the com­mu­ni­ties from moun­tains to sea”. Pre­vi­ously, the high court based its ar­gu­ment on the re­li­gious value of the rivers and cited sev­eral Supreme Court de­ci­sions that stated that “a Hindu idol is a ju­ris­tic en­tity ca­pa­ble of hold­ing prop­erty and of be­ing taxed” through those “who are en­trusted with the pos­ses­sion and man­age­ment of its prop­erty”. Point­ing out that de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of Ganga and Ya­muna is a clas­sic case of ‘des­per­ate times, des­per­ate mea­sures’, the Court ob­served that the Rivers have a pro­found sig­nif­i­cance in the lives of devout Hin­dus, whence they are wor­shipped and revered as Mother; the one who pu­ri­fies peo­ple of their sins. Back­ing its de­ci­sion to grant le­gal per­son­al­ity to Ganga and Ya­muna. Rivers Ganges and Ya­muna are wor­shipped by Hin­dus,” the court said, un­der­lin­ing that “ac­cord­ing to Hindu be­liefs, a dip in River Ganga can wash away all the sins”. “The Ganga is also called ‘Ganga Maa’,” it added. De­lib­er­at­ing on the na­ture of God, it ob­served: “God is om­nipo­tent and om­ni­scient and its pres­ence is felt not by rea­son of a par­tic­u­lar form or image but by rea­son of the pres­ence of the om­nipo­tent.” The court also rapped UP and Ut­tarak­hand for their fail­ure to con­sti­tute the Ganga Man­age­ment Board and asked the Chief Sec­re­taries of both states to co­op­er­ate with the Cen­tre. It noted that Viren­dra Sharma, Se­nior Joint Com­mis­sioner, Min­istry of Wa­ter Re­source & Ganga Re­ju­ve­na­tion, had re­vealed that de­spite nei­ther long cor­re­spon­dence, nei­ther UP nor Ut­tarak­hand were co­op­er­at­ing with the Cen­tral Govern­ment. Ex­am­in­ing that how Hin­dus have deep faith in the Rivers and how the Rivers are very cen­tral to the ma­te­rial and spir­i­tual ex­is­tence of half of In­dian pop­u­la­tion and their health and well-be­ing, the Court noted that the con­sti­tu­tion of Ganga Man­age­ment Board has be­come all the more nec­es­sary for the pur­pose of ir­ri­ga­tion, ru­ral and ur­ban wa­ter sup­ply, hy­dro power gen­er­a­tion, nav­i­ga­tion, in­dus­tries.

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