By Mr. Harsh Vardhan Bhati*

“The Bihari boatman knows the Ganga as a sanctuary for smooth-coated otters and the critically endangered blind dolphins, cousins of the Amazonian pink boto and the Yangtze River’s baiji. The Dalit fisherfolk know it as the mother of Toofani Baba, their stormy guardian. The Muslims know the river as the place where tazia is immersed on Muharram to celebrate the martyrdom of the Prophet’s grandson and his seventy-two companions. The Buddhists know the river as the metaphor through which the Buddha illustrated many of his teachings. The activist Rakesh Jaiswal knows his stretch of the Ganga in Kanpur as a river plagued with toxic tannery waste, harsh enough to make human skin disintegrate. And many know the river as the place where the ashes of their ancestors disappeared.”[i]

Introduction

First Nations people have always intuited how trees actually communicate with each other.[ii] They’ve had a dialogue with nature for tens of thousands of years because, in their cosmology, the earth was never mindless or impersonal, it was a sentient life force woven into everything. The mountains talked, the rivers whispered, the land remembered.[iii] It was a source of emotional and spiritual sustenance, one that we – in our industrial, urban hunger – had failed to register.[iv]

In 1979, James Lovelock published a slim volume entitled “Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth”. The book’s central hypothesis is that “the entire range of living matter on Earth, from whales to viruses and from oaks to algae, could be regarded as constituting a single living entity capable of maintaining the Earth’s atmosphere to suit its overall needs and endowed with faculties and powers far beyond those of its constituent parts.”[v]

The idea of giving nature legal rights was first highlighted in essays by University of Southern California law professor Christopher D. Stone, collected into a 1974 book titled “Should Trees Have Standing? Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects.” Stone argued that if an environmental entity is given “legal personality,” it cannot be owned and has the right to appear in court.[vi] Stone emphasizes that throughout legal history, each successive extension of rights to some new entity has been a bit unthinkable.[vii]He goes on to say that women’s suffrage, the abolition of slavery, prisoners, fetuses and indigenous rights were once unthinkable but gradually became accepted.[viii] Not to mention that corporations have been enjoying the status of legal person since the 1880s.[ix]

In this regard, Stone proposed that natural objects be considered ‘persons’ or holders of rights, such that they may be represented in Court by legal guardians, since they themselves are incapable of protecting their own rights.[x] In the 21st century, if we find it strange to view nature the way we view people, that may just be because we’ve grown up in an anthropocentric intellectual tradition that treats the natural world as an object to be examined and exploited for human use, rather than as a subject to be communed with and respected.[xi]

Status around the world

Several jurisdictions have developed versions of rights of nature regimes, including Ecuador, Bolivia, USA, New Zealand, El Salvador, Colombia, Bangladesh, and India. However, these rights vary significantly from one country to another. In some cases, nature as a whole is granted legal personhood or living entity. Whereas, in other cases parts of nature such as a river, a mountain, a species, a forest— granted the same status.

Ecuador and Bolivia

In 2008, after a national referendum, Ecuador changed its constitution to reflect rights for nature. It was the first country ever to do so; its move was followed legislatively by Bolivia in 2010.[xii]

The Constitution of Ecuador recognizes that Pachamama has rights “to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution” and exhorts that “all persons, communities, peoples and nations can call upon public authorities to enforce the rights of nature”.[xiii]

In Bolivia, the legal recognition of “Mother Earth” is in the nature of a collective public interest.  The Bolivian Constitution allows any person to legally defend the rights of the environment.[xiv] The Law of the Rights of Mother Earth (Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra)[xv] incorporated 10 articles, which enumerated 7 specific rights to Mother Earth and her constituting life systems (i.e. all other biological creatures). Again in 2012, the Framework Law of Mother Earth and Integral Development for Living Well (La Ley Marco de la Madre Tierra y Desarrollo Integral para Vivir Bien),[xvi] which is the most recent law in Bolivia.

In both Ecuador and Bolivia, nature has been personified as Pachamama or Mother Earth which is deemed to be a living entity.  These were marked departures from the anthropocentric orientation to eco-centric orientation for rights of nature in both the countries.  This move is linked to the holistic foundation of the law—to protect nature as a system instead of as discrete forests, streams, lakes, among others.[xvii]

The most well-known of all Ecuadorian rights of Nature cases is, arguably, that of Wheeler v. Director de la Procuraduria General del Estado en Loja (the “Vilcabamba case”), litigated in 2010–2011, and internationally heralded as the first successful case where Nature had rights upheld in court.[xviii] The case emerged as a result of the Vilcabamba-Quinare road expansion project parallel to the Vilcabamba river, without a prior environmental impact study, by the provincial government of Loja.[xix] This project was considered to be in breach of nature’s rights, due to the dumping of construction debris into the river, resulting in the narrowing of its width and flooding of nearby areas, subjecting the surrounding populations to significant risks.[xx] The Provincial Court of Justice of Loja ruled in favor of Nature in this case instantiated in the Vilcabamba River and held the Provincial Government responsible for flooding damages.[xxi]

USA

The idea of giving nature legal rights is not new. It dates to at least 1972, when a Stone, wrote an article titled “Should Trees Have Standing?”[xxii] Stone had hoped to influence a Supreme Court case in which the Sierra Club wanted to block a ski resort in the Sierras.[xxiii] The environmental group lost.[xxiv] Justice William Douglas after reading Stone’s article delivered his famous dissent in Sierra Club v. Morton,[xxv] he embraced the view advocated by Stone: that natural objects should be recognized as legal parties, which could be represented by humans, who could sue on their behalf.” If ships and corporations could be recognized by courts as legal personalities, ecosystems under “the destructive pressures of modern technology and modern life” ought to be able to sue to preserve themselves.[xxvi]

Even before Ecuador and Bolivia recognized the rights of nature, nature’s rights were recognized in an ordinance passed by Tamaqua Borough of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania in 2006, where the natural ecosystems were recognized as legal persons capable of enforcing civil rights. Similar rights of nature ordinances have been passed in other parts of America, such as in Pennsylvania, Maine, New Hampshire, California.[xxvii] Most of these local ordinances have not been tested in Court while a few have been invalidated.[xxviii]

Recently, the Lake Erie Ecosystem Bill of Rights came before Toledo citizens in a referendum in February 2019; 61% voted for it, and Lake Erie became – symbolically, temporarily – a “legal person.”[xxix]

New Zealand

In 2014, the bill based on the agreement between the government and the Māori regarding the personification of TeUrewera forest became law, bringing into being New Zealand’s first environmental legal person.[xxx]

The Whanganui river, which is New Zealand’s third largest river and also its longest navigable river, was granted legal personhood that reflected the Māori’s unique ancestral relationship with the river.[xxxi] The Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Act, 2017 Act grants legal personhood status to the Whanganui River and its catchment and creates a new governance framework for the river.[xxxii] The Whanganui river will be represented by guardians appointed by the Crown and the Whanganui Iwi, one from each, for the role of protecting the river.

Colombia

The Atrato River in Colombia was recognized as a legal person and a holder of rights by the Constitutional Court of Colombia.[xxxiii] In Colombia, the Atrato River was declared a holder of rights because of what it provided for and contributed towards human well-being and not because the river was itself equated to human life.[xxxiv] The Court attributed legal personality to the river and directed the government to appoint two representatives of the river, i.e., a member of the community and a representative of the government.[xxxv] The Atrato flows through Colombia’s Chocó area, a region devastated by illegal gold mining.[xxxvi] In its judgment, the country’s Constitutional Court argued that not unlike women, indigenous peoples and slaves through history, nature too has been treated as “property” or “right-less” under the law.[xxxvii] The Court no longer saw its role as regulator of human use and access to nature, and instead ruled on the Atrato as subject to rights.[xxxviii]

In 2018, the Colombian Supreme Court granted personhood to the portion of the Amazon rainforest within the country’s borders, giving it rights under law.[xxxix] The 25 children and young people from Colombia sued their nation’s government for their right to a safe environment.[xl] Their lawsuit, led by a human rights organization Dejusticia, focused on the rights of the Amazon rainforest itself.[xli]

El Salvador

The Legislative Assembly of El Salvador has, in a historic move, recognized forests as living entities.[xlii] Its citizens, will now be required to preserve forests.[xliii] El Salvador has lost about 85 per cent of its native forests since the 1960s, while Earth has lost about 80 per cent of its native forests.[xliv] This new form of governance comes as a hope in which humans not only live in harmony with nature but also conserve it.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh is sometimes known as the “land of the rivers.”[xlv] It has got hundreds of them — and over the years, they’ve been getting more and more polluted.[xlvi] But after July 2019, every single one of them has a remarkable new level of protection.[xlvii]

In 2019, the High Court Division of Bangladesh recognized the river Turag as a living entity with legal rights and held that the same would apply to all rivers in Bangladesh.[xlviii] The Bangladeshi case had been filed by an NGO (Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh, HRPB) in 2016, and concerned the destruction of the Turag through pollution and illegal constructions along the river.[xlix] Based on the common law public trust doctrine, the Court held that the government had to protect the rivers.[l]

India

A perusal of thought-provoking decisions of various High Courts’ and Supreme Court of India speak volumes about the development of environment jurisprudence and rights of nature in India.

In Orissa Mining Corporation v. Ministry of Environment & Forest[li] (2013), the Supreme Court explicitly declares that the Dongria Kondh’s right to worship Niyam-Raja (a nature god living in the Niyamgiri hills) receives protection under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India.[lii] The rights of nature here were articulated through the sacred association of the Dongria Kondh people to these hills, where they decided on behalf of the hills whether mining should be allowed or not.[liii]

In Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja[liv] (2014), the Supreme Court allowed that the Indian constitution’s Article 21 right to life could be extended to non-human animals, conferring the right to live a life of intrinsic worth, honor, and dignity with the aim of preventing animals from arbitrarily and unlawfully being deprived of their rights.[lv]

Shortly after the passing of the Te Awa Tupua Act in New Zealand, the Uttarakhand High Court in India extended legal personhood to the Ganga (Ganges) and the Yamuna.[lvi] In 2017 in Mohd. Salim v. State of Uttarakhand[lvii], the Uttarakhand High Court exercised its parens patrie jurisdiction and declared the rivers Ganga and Yamuna as well as all their tributaries, streams, including every natural water body flowing from or with these rivers as living entities “having the status of a legal person with all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person”.[lviii]

In 2017 in Lalit Miglani v. State of Uttarakhand,[lix] the Uttarakhand High Court has recognized Himalayan glaciers Gangotri and Yamunotri, rivers, streams, rivulets, lakes, air, meadows, dales, jungles, forests wetlands, grasslands, springs and waterfalls as “legal persons” in an effort to curb environmental destruction.[lx]

A month after the Uttarakhand High Court declared the Ganga and Yamuna and their tributaries as “living entities having the status of a legal person”, the Madhya Pradesh Assembly passed a resolution according the Narmada river as a living entity in order to control pollution, illegal mining on the river banks and to save the river from depletion in May 2017.[lxi]

In 2018, in Narayan Dutt Bhatt v. Union of India &Ors.,[lxii] the Uttarakhand High Court, accorded the status of “legal person or entity” to all members of animal kingdom, including birds and aquatic animals, to ensure greater welfare of animals. Later, in May 2019, in Karnail Singh and Ors. v State of Haryana,[lxiii] the High Court of Punjab and Haryana has recognized all animals in the animal kingdom, including avian and aquatic species, as legal entities. All citizens of the state of Haryana were declared persons in loco parentis (in place of a parent), which will enable them to act as guardians for all nonhuman animals within the state of Haryana.

In March 2020, in Court on Its Own Motion v. Chandigarh Admn,[lxiv] the High Court of Punjab and Haryana declared Sukhna Lake a “legal entity” or “legal person” with rights, duties and liabilities of a living person. It also declared all citizens of Chandigarh as loco parentis (in the place of a parent) to save the lake from extinction.

Challenges and solutions: Implementation and enforcement of the rights of nature

Granting status of legal person to nature and its parts has raised many questions. Some argue that it is not practical and logical to give parts of nature the same legal status as people. Some of the challenges are as follows:

First challenge is that these decisions will open a floodgate of litigation where some people will be asking courts to grant similar rights as Ganga to other rivers having deep-rooted religious and sacred connotations. Whereas, other people will be charged with assault and “murder for damaging the legal entity.”[lxv] For examples, in rivers case, people could sue the river for flooding and river could sue the people for polluting and interrupting its continuous flow by building up dams.  For forests, people could sue the forests for wildfire damages and forests could sue people for clear cutting, habitat destruction and land-use change for non-forest purposes. And, I could go on and on. Madhya Pradesh agriculture and farmer welfare minister Kamal Patel stated that Narmada river was a living entity and therefore collectors have been told to register attempt to murder cases against sand miners for causing harm to the water body in May 2020.[lxvi]

Second challenge is state’s role as the guardian. The Indian court’s river ruling was not clear enough regarding transboundary national and international implications, liability and who bears the burden overall. For example, what if the legal guardian takes some decision on river’s behalf and later prove to be detrimental to the river ecosystem’s interest or what if the guardian themselves are responsible for murdering the river, forests or animals.

Third challenge is jurisdictional and stripping rights of nature in short periods. Rivers do not have boundaries; they often traverse many states and more than one country. If a certain country grants rights to a river but a neighboring country has not, that makes it very difficult to legally protect the waterway from pollution and environmental harm. In July 2017, the Supreme Court of India stayed the operation of the rights of the Ganga and the Yamuna as legal entity based on a petition by the State of Uttarakhand reporting a number of legal and administrative issues, e.g., a single state cannot be responsible for a river that flows beyond its borders.[lxvii] The Ganga and Yamuna returned to being merely rivers after 109 days as “living persons.”[lxviii] Bangladeshi environmental activists are worried about how they won’t be able to compel India to comply with the new law on rivers.[lxix] In USA, on February 27, 2020— a year and a day after its passage— the Lake Erie Bill of Rights was ruled invalid.[lxx]

Fourth challenge is that rights of nature laws tend to get tied up in courtrooms and not everybody has the kind of money and financial support required to file a lawsuit. An example from Ecuador, the Vilcabamba case was filed by the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature against a construction company that wanted to build a road over a river.[lxxi] The NGO won in court, but the company didn’t obey the ruling — and the NGO reportedly didn’t have enough money to launch a second court case against the company.[lxxii] So the ruling wasn’t properly enforced.[lxxiii]

A basic difference between river Ganga and Whanganui is that the Māori had to wage a long struggle to save the river because the country is ruled by whites who do not share its belief in its sacredness. Finally, after more than 140 years of long legal battle between the Crown and the Māori tribe, the Parliament of New Zealand granted the Whanganui river legal personhood and designated the river Te Awa Tupua to be an “indivisible and living whole.” This legislation recognizes that environmental personhood is a direct translation of deep spiritual connection between the Māori tribe and its ancestral river.

Whereas, the Ganga personhood case was brought to the Uttarakhand High Court due to ecological concerns and to remove illegal construction along the banks of the river, as well as the failure to constitute the Ganga Management Board. Justice R. Sharma spent a fair amount of time on the legal justification for granting rights to the Ganga and Yamuna and also described the importance of the river by recounting the religious and cultural significance to Hindus. Ironically, the sad state of affairs is that the Ganga is being polluted and suffocated by its people who revere the Ganga as mother and goddess such as by cremating bodies[lxxiv] and human ash,[lxxv] industries & factories emitting polluting discharges,[lxxvi] and sewage dumping[lxxvii] straight into the Ganga river.

Moreover, while the Whanganui river law entrusts the protection of the river equally to the Māori and the Crown, the Indian court puts its faith in government officials, namely the Director, Namami Gange, and the Chief Secretary and Advocate General of Uttarakhand. This defies the whole purpose of legal guardianship because the Central and State governments have not only failed in conservation of the Ganga and Yamuna but also have been complicit at many levels in diverting, damming, and polluting them.

The setback lies equally in our very understanding of environmental laws and rights of nature. We still think of environmental protection in terms sustainable development- where somehow development agenda always have upper hand to environmental protection and rights of nature. In the age of climate change and global warming, we need to protect the environment and nature as whole even at the cost of development, so that millennials and futures ones can enjoy the symbiotic relationship with the Earth.

Simply granting legal personhood to nature would not lead to desired impact, unless specifying the ambit of such rights under an eco-centric approach with proper means of implementations and enforcement expressed in clear term with strong language. The far-sighted and innovatory approach taken in the New Zealand legislation can teach us much about the management and protection of ecosystems and biodiversity.[lxxviii] Of the many notable features of the New Zealand legislation, perhaps three aspects merit special attention here: (i) the wider legal representation for the environment that the 2017 Act affords; (ii) the adoption of a holistic definition of the ‘environment’; and (iii) the implications for environmental governance of eschewing a ‘property’-based approach to both defining the ‘environment’ itself and to structuring remedies to protect it.[lxxix] Education and community-based monitoring and evaluation systems for the Ganga would also help in the abatement of pollution.[lxxx]

As soon as we start treating nature more as a subject and less as an object at our very personal levels, we may see some light. The human world needs a new orientation towards nature world, one based not on rights but responsibility. Or to paraphrase John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what nature can do for you—ask what you can do for nature.[lxxxi]

Conclusion

Professor Murphy points out, the spiritual beliefs of the Chinese and Indians “in the unity between man and nature had no greater effect than the contrary beliefs in Europe in producing a balance between man and his environment.”[lxxxii] What we need to understand that rights of nature imply that all natural resources should have rights, standing in the court and deserves protection because of its intrinsic value regardless of whether they have sacred and religious belief attached to it. It is a more ethical position in the sense of anthropocentric v. eco-centric. We need to develop a harmonious and symbiotic relationship with nature as a whole. We should realize and respect as Thomas Berry puts it in The Great Work, “Trees have tree rights, insects have insect rights, rivers have river rights, and mountains have mountain rights”.[lxxxiii]

We all need to take a step back and reorient our relationship with nature. We need to see nature as an indivisible whole, instead of the traditional model for the several years of treating it from a perspective of ownership and management. Overall, the whole movement of recognizing the rights of nature is under construction. It is obvious that it will bring many challenges, uncertainties and failures. However, it definitely has potential to fully develop as an acceptable legal tool and introduce an earth-centric paradigm in our society. Nature becomes real only when one let it moves from the head into the heart or a journey from anthropocentrism to eco-centrism.

The only question I would pose to all of you: will Nature stay alive long enough to use legal personhood rights in the age of climate change and global warming?


About the Author

*Mr. Harsh Vardhan Bhati is a Lecturer at Jindal Global Law School, OPJGU and specializing in environmental, natural resources and energy law. He attained B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) degree from JGLS and was awarded LL.M. (Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law) from Lewis & Clark Law School. He has worked on a broad range of environmental & human rights campaigns and also represented NGOs and state government departments in Court cases pertained to forest, wildlife and environmental issues. He has also contributed toward legal and social advocacy work in Ecuador and Amazon Rainforest, Brazil regarding rights of indigenous people and forest rights.


[i]Bidisha Banerjee, ‘What (or who) is the Ganga? Bidisha Banerjee travelled the length of the river to write this book’ (2020) Scroll <https://scroll.in/article/953556/what-or-who-is-the-ganga-bidisha-banerjee-travelled-the-length-of-the-river-to-write-this-book&gt; accessed 17 June 2020.

[ii] David Leser, ‘Call of the wild: listen up, people, time is running out’ (2020) The Sydney Moring Herald <https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/call-of-the-wild-listen-up-people-time-is-running-out-20200424-p54mzq.html>accessed 17 June 2020.

[iii]Ibid.

[iv]Ibid.

[v]James E. Lovelock, Gaia: A new look at life on earth (Oxford University Press 1979).

[vi]Ashley Westerman, ‘Should Rivers Have Same Legal Rights As Humans? A Growing Number of Voices Say Yes’ (2019) KSMU Radio <https://www.ksmu.org/post/should-rivers-have-same-legal-rights-humans-growing-number-voices-say-yes#stream/0&gt; accessed 17 June 2020.

[vii]Christopher D. Stone, ‘Should Trees Have Standing? Towards Legal Rights for Natural Objects’ (1972) 45 Southern California Law Review 450.

[viii]Ibid.

[ix]Sigal Samuel, ‘This country gave all its rivers their own legal rights’ (2019) Vox <https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/8/18/20803956/bangladesh-rivers-legal-personhood-rights-nature&gt; accessed 17 June 2020.

[x]Akshita Jha &Adrija Ghosh, ‘Is being a “Person” Essential for the Environment to hold Rights? Assessing the Legitimacy of Environmental Personhood and Alternative Approaches’ (2018) 11(3) NUJS Law Review.

[xi]Cf.Samuel (n 9).

[xii] Gwendolyn J. Gordon, ‘Environmental Personhood’ (2019) 43(1) Columbia Journal of Environmental Law 49.

[xiii] The Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador 2008, Arts. 10, 71-74. See also cf Jha & Ghosh (n 4).

[xiv] Constitution of Bolivia 2009.

[xv] ‘Bolivia – national rights of nature legislation’ Australian Earth Law Alliance <https://www.earthlaws.org.au/what-is-earth-jurisprudence/rights-of-nature/bolivia/>accessed 17 June 2020.

[xvi]Ibid.

[xvii]Cf.Gordon (n 12).

[xviii] Cristy Clark, Nia Emmanouil, John Page & Alessandra Pelizzon, ‘Can You Hear the Rivers Sing? Legal Personhood, Ontology, and the Nitty-Gritty of Governance’ (2019) 45(4) Ecology Law Quarterly 787.

[xix]Ibid.

[xx]Ibid.

[xxi]Ibid.

[xxii] Julie Turkewitz, ‘Corporations Have Rights. Why Shouldn’t Rivers?’ (2017) The New York Times <https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/26/us/does-the-colorado-river-have-rights-a-lawsuit-seeks-to-declare-it-a-person.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share>accessed 17 June 2020.

[xxiii]Ibid.

[xxiv]Ibid.

[xxv]Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727 (1972).

[xxvi]David Laconangelo, ‘An Indian court says glaciers and rivers are ‘living entities.’ Could the same approach work in the US?’ (2017) The Christian Science Monitor <https://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2017/0407/An-Indian-court-says-glaciers-and-rivers-are-living-entities.-Could-the-same-approach-work-in-the-US>accessed 17 June 2020.

[xxvii]Cf.Gordon (n 12).

[xxviii]Cf.Jha & Ghosh (n 10).

[xxix] Robert Macfarlane, ‘Should this tree have the same rights as you?’ (2019) The Guardian <https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/nov/02/trees-have-rights-too-robert-macfarlane-on-the-new-laws-of-nature>accessed 17 June 2020.

[xxx]Cf.Gordon (n 12).

[xxxi]Cf.Clark &Pelizzon (n 18).

[xxxii] Erin O’Donnell & Julia Talbot-Jones, ‘Creating Legal Rights for Rivers: Lessons from Australia, New Zealand, and India’ (2018) 23(1) Ecology and Society; just to add further that the new arrangement approximates the Whanganui Iwi worldview in law, acknowledging the river as a living whole that stretches from the mountains to the sea, including both its physical and metaphysical elements. The settlement Act recognizes the river and its catchment as a legal entity with all the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities of a legal person.

[xxxiii]Nick Mount, ‘Can a river have legal rights? Lessons from Colombia’ (2017) The Third pole <https://www.thethirdpole.net/2017/10/27/can-a-river-have-legal-rights-lessons-from-colombia/&gt; accessed 17 June 2020.

[xxxiv]Cf.Jha & Ghosh (n 10).

[xxxv] Ibid.  

[xxxvi]Madhuri Karak, ‘Law alone can’t protect our rivers and their ‘rights’ ‘ (2017) South Asia @LSE <https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/southasia/2017/11/01/law-alone-cant-protect-our-rivers-and-their-rights/&gt; accessed 17 June 2020.

[xxxvii] Ibid.  

[xxxviii] Ibid.  

[xxxix] Stephen Schmidt, ‘Colombian high court grants personhood to Amazon rainforest in case against country’s government’ (2018) The World <https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-05-06/colombian-high-court-grants-personhood-amazon-rainforest-case-against-country-s&gt; accessed 17 June 2020.

[xl] Ibid.  

[xli] Ibid.  

[xlii]DTE Staff, ‘El Salvador recognises forests as living entities’ (2019) DownToEarth <https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/forests/el-salvador-recognises-forests-as-living-entities-65020&gt; accessed 17 June 2020.

[xliii] Ibid.  

[xliv] Ibid.  

[xlv]Cf.Samuel (n 9).

[xlvi] Ibid.  

[xlvii] Ibid.  

[xlviii] Sebastian Bechtel, ‘Legal rights of rivers – an international trend?’ (2019) Client Earth <https://www.clientearth.org/legal-rights-of-rivers-an-international-trend/#:~:text=The%20Bangladeshi%20case%20had%20been,had%20to%20protect%20the%20rivers.&gt; accessed 17 June 2020.

[xlix] Ibid.

[l] Ibid.

[li]Orissa Mining Corporation v. Ministry of Environment & Forest, (2013) 6 SCC 476.

[lii] Ibid.

[liii]Harsh Vardhan Bhati, ‘Court to the rescue again’ (2016) The Statesman <https://www.thestatesman.com/supplements/court-to-the-rescue-again-160618.html>accessed 17 June 2020.

[liv]Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja, (2014) 7 SCC 547.

[lv] Ibid.

[lvi]Ashish Kothari, Mari Margil, and Shrishtee Bajpai, ‘Now rivers have the same legal status as people, we must uphold their rights’ (2017) The Guardian <https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2017/apr/21/rivers-legal-human-rights-ganges-whanganui>accessed 17 June 2020.

[lvii]Mohd. Salim v. State of Uttarakhand, 2017 SCC OnLine Utt 367; Just to add further that the Director of the Namami Gange Programme as well as the Chief Secretary and the Advocate General of Uttarakhand were declared to be the legal parents of the rivers, the “human face to protect, conserve and preserve Rivers Ganga and Yamuna and their tributaries”.

[lviii] Ibid.

[lix]Lalit Miglani v. State of Uttarakhand and ors., WP (PIL) No.140 of 2015, decided on 30 March 2019, Uttarakhand High Court.

[lx] Ibid.

[lxi] Rabindra Nath Choudhury, ‘Narmada recognised as a living entity’ (2017) The Asian Age <https://www.asianage.com/india/politics/040517/narmada-recognised-as-a-living-entity.html&gt; accessed 17 June 2020.

[lxii]Narayan Dutt Bhatt v. Union of India & Ors., WP (PIL) No. 43 of 2014, decided on 04 July 2019, Uttarakhand High Court.

[lxiii]Karnail Singh and others v State of Haryana, CRR-533-2013, decided on 31 May 2019, The High Court of Pubjab & Haryana.

[lxiv]Court on Its Own Motion v. Chandigarh Admn, CWP No.18253 of 2009 & other connected petitions, decided on 2 March 2020, Punjab & Haryana High Court; just to add further that the order was passed by the high court (HC) bench of justices Rajiv Sharma and HS Sidhu in a 2009 suo motu petition initiated amid depleting water level in the lake.

[lxv]Michael Safi, ‘Murder most foul: polluted Indian river reported dead despite ‘living entity’ status’ (2017) The Guardian <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/07/indian-yamuna-river-living-entity-ganges>accessed 17 June 2020.

[lxvi]Press Trust of India, ‘Narmada sand mining: File attempt to murder cases, says MP minister’ (2020) Hindustan Times <https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/narmada-sand-mining-file-attempt-to-murder-cases-says-mp-minister/story-GPA25BGPit9O6takgXUFtO.html>accessed 17 June 2020.

[lxvii] Gabriel Eckstein, Ariella D’Andrea, Virginia Marshall, Erin O’Donnell, Julia Talbot-Jones, Deborah Curran & Katie O’Bryan, ‘Conferring legal personality on the world’s rivers: A brief intellectual assessment’ (2019) Water Int’l 1.

[lxviii]Cf.Karak (n 36).

[lxix]Cf.Samuel (n 9).

[lxx] Sean Nestor, ‘Lake Erie: Dead Or Alive’ (2020) Toledo City Paper <https://toledocitypaper.com/feature/lake-erie-dead-or-alive/&gt; accessed 17 June 2020.

[lxxi]Cf.Samuel (n 9).

[lxxii] Ibid.

[lxxiii] Ibid.

[lxxiv]‘Indian government criticised after scores of bodies surface in Ganges’ (2016) The Guardian <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/19/hindu-bodies-ganges-india-pollution-narendra-modi>accessed 17 June 2020.

[lxxv] Priyanka Shankar, ‘Doms of Varanasi make a living among the dead’ (2017) Reuters <https://www.reuters.com/article/india-doms-varanasi-cremation/doms-of-varanasi-make-a-living-among-the-dead-idUSKBN1CV1K8&gt; accessed 17 June 2020.

[lxxvi]  Kiran Pandey, ‘Grossly polluting industries more than doubled in 8 years: SOE in Figures’ (2019) DownToEarth <https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/pollution/grossly-polluting-industries-more-than-doubled-in-8-years-soe-in-figures-64962&gt; accessed 17 June 2020.

[lxxvii] ‘In UP, Ganga water fails quality test as untreated sewage continues to pollute river’ (2018) Hindustan Times <https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/in-up-ganga-water-fails-quality-test-as-untreated-sewage-continues-to-pollute-river/story-WxhNqwWDiEPR4ukHxiCBDL.html&gt; accessed 17 June 2020.

[lxxviii] Rodgers, C. (2017). A new approach to protecting ecosystems: The Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Act 2017. Environmental Law Review, 19(4), 266–279. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461452917744909

[lxxix] Ibid.

[lxxx]Ipshita Chaturvedi (2019): Why the Ganga should not claim a right of the river, Water International, DOI: 10.1080/02508060.2019.1679947

[lxxxi] Kennedy Warne, ‘https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/2019/04/maori-river-in-new-zealand-is-a-legal-person/’ (2019) National Geographic <https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/2019/04/maori-river-in-new-zealand-is-a-legal-person/&gt; accessed 17 June 2020.

[lxxxii] Cf. Stone (n 7) 494.

[lxxxiii] Cf. Macfarlane (n 29).

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