Subhash Kumar vs. State of Bihar and Ors.

By :- Saumya Patel

Before the High Court of Bihar

NAME OF THE CASESubhash Kumar vs. State of Bihar and ors.
CITATION1991 AIR 420, 1991 SCC (1) 598
RESPONDENTSState of Bihar and Ors.
DATE OF JUDGMENT09 January 1991
BENCHJustice K.N. Singh; Justice N.D. Ojha
STATUTESConstitution of India, 1950 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act


The petitioner filed a public interest proceedings claim against iron and steel corporations, as a result of they allegedly created health risks to the general public by marketing waste from their factories into the close Bokaro river. The petitioner additionally claimed that the State Pollution instrument panel had did not take acceptable measures for preventing this pollution.

As a part of his claim, they asked the Court to require proceedings against the corporate supported the Water (Prevention and management of Pollution) Act of 1974 and moreover requested permission to gather waste within the type of sludge and suspension by himself as interim relief. The State Pollution and instrument panel claimed that it had sufficiently monitored the standard of effluent waste coming into the watercourse and therefore the respondent corporations claimed that they’d adhered to the Board’s directions regarding the interference of pollution.

The Court found that the Board had so taken effective steps to stop the waste discharge from the factories into the watercourse and so discharged the petition. Moreover, it had been control that the petition failed to qualify as a public interest proceedings, as a result of it had been filed by the petitioner’s own interest in getting larger quantities of waste within the type of suspension from one among the respondent corporations from that he began to purchase suspension many years before the petition.


In this case, wide interpretation has been given to Article 32 of the Indian Constitution. Article 32 of the Constitution was intended and designed for the enforcement of the Fundamental Rights of the citizens by the Supreme Court. It is an extraordinary procedure provided in the Constitution which safeguards the rights of an individual. The right to live is a Fundamental Right mentioned in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and guarantees the pollution-free environment and water to an individual. If anything endangers the quality of life of an individual in derogation of laws, a citizen is guaranteed with the remedy in Article 32 of the Constitution for the removal of the pollution so caused affecting the quality of life.

A petition is maintainable for the prevention of pollution by affected persons or group of affected persons under Article 32 of the Constitution. Public Interest Litigation cannot be pleaded by a person or group of persons to satisfy his/her personal grudge or enmity. If such petitions are maintained and entertained under Article 32 it would amount to manipulation of the process of the Court, preventing remedy to genuine Petitioners, personal interests cannot be enforced by the Court’s process in the garb of a PIL. Public Interest Litigation anticipates legal proceedings for the enforcement of fundamental rights of individuals who are not able to enforce their rights.


  • The petition was filed by the means of Public Interest legal proceeding by Subhash Kumar for preventing the pollution of the water of the watercourse Bokaro from the discharge of sludge/slurry from the washeries of Tata Iron & Steel Co. Ltd.
  • The Petitioner alleged that the Parliament enacted Water (Prevention and management of Pollution) Act, 1978 for maintaining the quality of water and for the interference of pollution. The State Pollution control panel was grooved for the implementation of the functions provided in Section 17 of the same Act, the Board is suggested to examine the trade effluents and plants for the treatment of waste and to review information and specifications for the treatment of water. Section 24 of the same act provides that not everybody ought to wittingly cause or authorize any toxic or polluting matter within the river.
  • The Petitioner declared that the Tata Iron and Steel Co carried mining operations within the city of Jamshedpur that also are referred to as West Bokaro Collieries.
  • It was alleged by the Petitioner that the waste in variety of suspension is discharged as effluent within the Bokaro watercourse from the washeries that get deposited on the bed of the watercourse and acquire settled on the land as well as Plot No.170 that is Petitioner’s land. He additionally same that the sludge thus discharged gets absorbed on the agricultural land departure a fine film of carboniferous.
  • He additional alleges that the discharge of the sludge from the washeries additionally bemire the water as a results of that the water can not be used for irrigation functions or drinking.
  • Despite many representations, The State Pollution control panel didn’t take actions against the corporate and allowable the pollution of the water and also the State of state rather than taking actions, it’s granting a lease on the payment of royalty for assortment of suspension to varied persons.
  • He has, consequently, claimed relief for the difficulty of direction directional the Respondents that embody the State of state, the state Pollution control panel, Union of Asian country and Tata Iron & Steel Co., to require immediate steps prohibiting the pollution of the Bokaro river water from the discharge of suspension into the Bokaro river and to require additional action below provisions of the Act against the Tata Iron & Steel Co. within the counter-affidavit filed by the respondents the discharge of suspension through washeries within the river Bokaro, polluting constant and no actions being taken by the Board has been utterly denied.


1. Whether the petitioner could file plea by way of Public Interest Litigation (PIL)?

2. Whether the water of the river Bokaro is polluted by the discharge of sludge/slurry from the washeries of the Respondent’s Company?


It has been contended by the Petitioner that the excess waste discharged within the kind of sludge/slurry as effluent from washeries within the river, leaves the carboniferous product on the soil, that affects the fertility of the land. He alleged that the water flowing to foreign places is neither good for drinking nor for irrigation functions and also the continuous discharge of sludge from Tata Iron & Steel Co. poses an important quantity of risks to the health of individuals. It’s conjointly declared that once creating continuous requests no actions are taken by the State of Bihar and even is granting royalty on payment of leases. In his plea he has claimed relief for the problem of direction by guiding the State of Bihar, Bihar Pollution panel and has pleaded immediate steps for curb pollution within the Bokaro rive from the discharge of sludge from Tata Iron and Steel & Co.


The counsels for the respondents contended that the Bihar Pollution board has taken all the mandatory steps to stop the pollution within the Bokaro stream. The Tata Iron & Steel Co. has been granted sanction from the Board for discharging effluents from their shops beneath Sections 25 and 26 of the Water interference and management of Pollution Act, 1974. Before granting the discharge of the effluents to the Bokaro stream, the Board has analyzed and monitored that the effluents generated from the washeries didn’t contaminate the stream.

It absolutely was same by the respondents that to stop the pollution within the Bokaro stream, the Board issued direction to the Director of the Collieries to require necessary steps for up the standard of the stream. It was absolutely   declared by the respondents that four ponds were made to extend the storing capability of the effluents. The effluent was monitored by the Pollution Board; associate review was distributed by the Board of the subsidence tanks for the treatment of effluent from the washeries on 20 June 1988. It was absolutely found on the review that the four subsidence tanks put in were completed and there was no discharge from the effluents was found except that there was near to negligible seepage from the mound.

It was further stated that no discharge of the effluent was found within the Bokaro river and was no doubt of pollution of the river and hence the fertility of the land was additionally not affected. The respondents negate allegations created within the petition against them and have explicit  that the effective steps are taken to stop the discharge of sludge from washeries within the Bokaro river. Truth was additionally explicit  by the Respondents that the Bokaro river remains dry throughout nine months and no doubt of pollution from the discharge of suspension is raised, the suspension settled within the lake was thought of purchasable because the carboniferous materials found within the suspension area unit vital and valuable for the aim of fuel.

it absolutely was created positive by the corporate that no suspension at large from the pool because it is very valuable of fuel generation. Since the suspension includes a high value the corporate cannot afford to let it go waste within the stream and for an equivalent necessary steps has been taken by the corporate that no suspension escapes within the pool. it was further mentioned by the Respondents that Company complied with the directions stated under the State Pollution Control Board Act, 1974.


Water  (Prevention and Control of Pollution)Act,  1974:

  • Section 17 Functions of State Board.
  • Section 24 Prohibition on use of stream or well for disposal of the polluting matter, etc.
  • Section 25 Restrictions on new outlets and new discharge
  • Section 26 Provision regarding existing discharge of sewage or trade effluent.
  • Constitution  of  India,  1950:         
    • Article  21 Right  to live Includes right to the enjoyment of pollution-free water and air

A  citizen  has a right to invoke Article  32  for  removing pollution.

  • Article 32- Writ petition in public interest-Allegation that West Bokaro Collieries and Tata Iron and Steel  Company are polluting the river Bokaro by discharging slurry from their washeries into the river No material to substantiate.

Public  Interest Litigation-Should be resorted to by  a person genuinely interested in the protection of  society personal  interest cannot be enforced in the garb of  public Interest  litigation entertainment of  petitions  satisfying personal grudge is abuse of process of the Court Duty of the court is to discourage such petitions.


The judgment was passed within the year 1991 by the two-judge bench of Justice K.N Singh and Justice N.D. Ojha. Each the judges in agreement and dominated in favor of respondents. Judges stated that the petitioner had a self-interest within the case and therefore the matter given by the petitioner wasn’t involved with the final public. The principal objective of getting a Public Interest proceedings was profaned because the petitioner was having self-interest instead of having public motive.

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution has been multiplied by incorporating people’s right to measure with a pollution-free setting. Past cases of the petitioner showed that he want to take suspension from the industries and sell them. Once the respondent denies providing more suspension to the petitioner, he dragged the respondent to the court and therefore the Board had consummated its entire obligation by checking upon the industry’s functioning. It had been found that the industries weren’t concerned in any such act claimed by the petitioner. Thus the petitioner was himself guilty and had wasted the time of the court, keeping in view the facts the Court dismissed the present petition. The Court directed the Petitioner to pay Rs. 5,000/- as costs to the Respondents.


A Public Interest Litigation can only be filed for public interest and not for self- interest.


 The existence of life on earth depends on the harmonious relationship between the system and also the surroundings. Within the on top of case additionally the reach of article twenty one of the Indian Constitution is widen by adding the proper to the pollution-free surroundings below the proper to life. By analyzing the above-named case, I will conclude that once creating of the act and general assembly, the misuse of them occur, as for the sake of self-interest public motive is neglected and a lot of privilege is given to the individual want, as during this case wherever it absolutely was found that it absolutely was the petitioner was guilty and not the respondents.

Article 32 of the Indian Constitution is designed for the enforcement of the Fundamental Rights of a citizen by the Supreme Court; it is an extraordinary procedure to safeguard the rights of a citizen. The Right to live is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution and guarantees a citizen to live in pollution-free water and air. A person cannot invoke Public Interest Litigation to satisfy his personal grudge. The present petition is not maintainable as it was not filed in the public interest and was the result of a personal grudge.


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