Municipal Council, Ratlam v. Shri. Vardhichand & Ors., 1980

AIR 1622, 1981 SCR (1) 97

Bench- Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer



  • In the following case, residents of Ratlam city situated in the state of Madhya Pradesh are the petitioners.
  • Some of the residents of Ratlam city filed a complaint before Sub Divisional Magistrate of Ratlam city alleging that municipality of that area is not constructing proper drains as required and because of excertion created by nearby slum dwellers resulted into strench and stink in that area which led public nuisance to the petitioners of the case.
  • The Sub Divisional Magistrate of Ratlam district instructed the municipality to prepare a proper development plan within 6 months of the complaint submitted by the residents of Ratlam city.
  • The directions given by the Sub Divisional Magistrate to the municipality was approved by the High Court.
  • Afterwards the municipality filed an appeal before the Apex Court of India and stated that they do not have proper financial support as well as proper funds to comply with the directions given by the Sub Divisional Magistrate of the Ratlam city.
  • After that, the Supreme Court gave directions to the municipality to follow the directions given to it by the Sub Divisional Magistrate under Section 123 of Municipality Act, 1961, and said that shortage of funds is not a defense to carry out the basic duties done by the local authorities of a particular region.



  • Whether by affirmative action a court can compel a statutory body to carry out duty towards community to have a proper sanitation facility at greater cost.



  • Petitioner

Municipal Council argued on the ground that the residents of that locality have chosen that area with that choice and the owners of the house are fully aware of the insanitary conditions prevailing there. Thereby the owners of the houses precluding their right to complaint for the insanitary condition prevailing there. Municipal Council also contended that there were limitation of financial resources for the construction of and provision of services to fulfill the directions given by the Sub Divisional Magistrate of Ratlam city.

  • Respondent

Respondents argued that the Municipality  of Ratlam city had failed to meet its obligations given by the Sub Divisional Magistrate to provide for public health including by failing to abate pollution and other hazardous waste for impacting their homes. Respondents focused to stop pollution caused by runoff from a nearby alcohol plant, mitigation of open waste that collected in open pools and poorly drained areas, mitigation of malaria resulting from standing water, and the creation of sanitary facilities to prevent the flow of human waste into their neighboring areas.



In this case the Supreme Court upheld the judgement of the High Court. The Supreme Court instructed the Municipal Council of Ratlam to immediately follow order given by the Sub Divisional Magistrate of Ratlam city to protect the area from pollution  caused by alcohol plant flowing into the neighbouring areas of the resident .Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s view affirming the Magistrate’s order. Supreme court also ordered the municipal to take necessary steps to  fulfill their obligation by providing adequate number of public laterals for specifically men and women separately along with to provide water supply and scavenging service in morning as well as in evening to ensure proper sanitation. The court also ordered that these obligations to be fulfilled within six months of court order. It was also added by the court if its order was not followed by the Municipal Corporation then it will face charge of criminal contempt of  court. Further more, court also directed State Government to provide some measures to the department responsible for malaria along with the city within specified time. The Court Further held that in case municipality feel the need of resources then it will raise its demand fromState government by elitist projects, request loans from the State Government from the savings account of public health expenditure to fulfill the resource requirement for the implementation of courts order.


Significance and Critical Analysis of the Judgement

As per my view ,the judgement given by the honourable judge in this case  was a milestone in the path of environmental protection.It can be easily called as landmark judgement  in environmental protection . The judiciary has viewed the human rights on one hand and the environmental protection on the other hand as the two faces of the same coin. The decision proves that judiciary is protector of fundamental right as in this case it  protected the right of each individual in relation to environment under Art. 21 of the Constitution.Therefore, according to my view the verdict given in this case is reasonable and justified.

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