Doctrine of public trust

Doctrine of Public trust Doctrine

BY: Bishrant Khatiwada, SLS, Pune, Email:

In India, the doctrine of public trust is still emerging. It has been held by the Supreme Court that the doctrine is part of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution since the doctrine fosters a pollution free environment which is in fact a right to life. Article 39(b) sets out that the state shall in particular, direct its policy towards securing that the ownership and control of material resources of the community are distributes so that the best to sub serve common goals. Where article 47 of Indian Constitution provides that, “The state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife to the country”.

The Constitution of India has not provided the state with the ownership of the resources of environment or forests but the position of the state is that of the trustee, who is required to protect and improve these resources for the public at large.

In Mc Mehta V Kamalnath (1997), the government leased a land to private company for commercial purpose, to build motel at the bank of a river base. Kamalnath was alleged that motel management interfered with natural flow of water to save water from of flooding in motel by diverting the water direction. The Supreme Court stated that the public trust doctrine primarily resets on the principle that certain resources like air, sea, waters and forests have such great importance to the people as a whole that it would be unjustified to make them a subject of private ownership. The court observed that: Our Indian legal framework, which is based on English common law, incorporates the public trust doctrine as portion of its law. The State is the trustee of all common assets, which are by nature implied for open utilize and satisfaction. Open at expansive is the recipient of the seashore, running waters, show, woodlands and environmentally delicate lands. The State as a trustee is beneath a legitimate obligation to secure the normal assets. These resources implied for open utilize cannot be changed over into private possession. As streams, woodlands, minerals and such other assets constitute a nation’s common riches. These assets are not to be squandered absent and depleted by any one era. Each generation owes an obligation to all succeeding eras to create and preserve the common assets of the country within the best possible way. It is within the intrigued of mankind. It is within the intrigued of the country. In this way, the Open Believe convention may be a portion of the law of the land. Whereas within the Th. Majra Singh case, the High court connected the public trust teaching alongside other standards such as the preparatory rule and polluter pays guideline. In addition, in Kamal Nath case, the Incomparable Court coordinated, connect alia, that the rent be subdued and the complete taken a toll of reclamation to its unique common condition be paid by the Motel.

In Conclusion, from the above discussions on the doctrine and various case laws, it is evident that the state is not the owner of the natural resources in the country but a trustee who holds fiduciary relationship with the people. By accepting this task the government is expected to be loyal to the interests of its citizens and to discharge its duty with the interest of the citizens at heart and involve them in decision-making process concerning the management of natural resources in the country.


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