Judges take lessons

Orissa's lower judiciary hones its skills to settle environmental disputes

By Satyasundar Barik
Published: Friday 15 February 2002

 The green law education progr (Credit: Satyasunder Barik)to enable them to do justice to their assignment, the primary judiciary in Orissa is being sensitised to various aspects of environmental laws. A recently held two-day education programme for the state's lower court judges was a step in this direction. And annual refresher courses may also be introduced soon.

Over 50 sub-divisional judicial magistrates participated in the session to brush up on environmental regulations. The programme was organised by the Bhubaneswar-based Centre for Advancement in Environment Law (cael) in association with the Orissa High Court and the State Pollution Control Board (spcb).

cael will be organising regular training courses for the lower judiciary. The curriculum prepared for the 'green' judges includes the comparative study of international and national legislation relating to environmental hazards, the evolution and application of the right to environment and tools and techniques to deal with environmental disputes.

Inaugurating the workshop, Justice P K Mishra of the Tamil Nadu High Court observed: "If we could remind society of the hazardous effects of environmental degradation, the problem would be half solved." Law Institute, Washington, director John Pendergrass said that the biggest hurdle in India to implementation of environmental laws was the inaccessibility of courts. Justifying the exercise, B P Tripathy, a Supreme Court environmental lawyer, said: "Many primary court judges believe that they do not have any powers to adjudicate such disputes because they are not exposed to relevant laws."

Eminent environmental lawyer Rajeev Dhavan welcomed the move but added: "Only external education cannot create green judges. Personal involvement through self-learning is also important."

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