Rabindra Nath Kakar and Ors vs Union of India and Ors on 4 December 2020: Case Analysis, By Kartikeya Hundet, At LexCliq


In recent years, there has been a change in the environmental policy focus more on the wildlife conservation and protection of mangrove forest ecosystem in India. The higher judiciary had played an important role in the implementation of measures for pollution control and protection and conservation of forest.

In this case, the Bombay High Court highlight discuss the scope of PIL filed under article 226[1] of the constitution and section 3(3) of The Environment (Protection) Act,1986 to protect the mangrove area in Mumbai. However, the petitioners use this right of PIL for private interest. Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been prominently relied upon to tackle environmental problems, and this approach has its supporters as well as critics. This case helps us to analyze the principle of sustainable development about the proposed project of construction of the bridge over the protected area of mangrove forest in Mumbai, Maharashtra. 


In this case, a petition was file to Bombay High Court by the member of the co-operative society of Indian Inhabitant at Versova Andheri West, Mumbai. The members issued various letters to the concerned authorities raising their concern on the proposed link bridges project passing through mangroves and the possible encroachment in and around the mangroves.  

The proposed public project inter alia is to construct a vehicular bridge at the junction of Yari road and Lokhandwala, near Amarnath tower building. The petitioners no. 1 to 13 claims to be an activist working for the conservation and beautification of environment. Whereas petitioner no 14 is the co-operative housing society where the other petitioner lives.

The petitioners contend that execution of the project work would involve the uprooting of mangroves, as well as the project, which does not resolve the current traffic situation in the area. The petitioner contends during 2014-2015, through issued various letters to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) raising their concern on encroachment to mangrove and the plan had too many defects which were elaborated in these letters issued to the authorities. However, no reply was received to these letters. Thus, they file a PIL[2] in the Bombay High Court against the State of Maharashtra and others seeking protection of the mangrove areas in Mumbai. All the petitioner come together by forming a group as ‘Bombay Environmental Action Group” (the BEAG) for the trial

Issue Raise:

  •       Whether the state of Maharashtra has a right to use land covered by mangrove forest?
  •   Whether the infrastructure project undertaken by the Municipal Corporation and MMRD contravenes the provision of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986?
  •       Whether MCGM took all clearance from the office of Forest and Environment authorities for the planning of the project or not?

The contention put forward by the council of Petitioner:

Mr Deshmukh learned counsel for the petitioners argues that the plan for construction of road 2 and 3 under the project was designed in such a manner that it would result in uprooting the mangrove vegetation. It is stated that there shall be a total freeze on the destruction and cutting of mangroves in the entire state of Maharashtra, regardless of the ownership of the land. the next contention put forward by the council that the proposed project plan is defective and faulty which endangered the life of human and the environment at high risk. It is, therefore, submitted that the prayers made by the petition should be granted by this court.  

The contention put forward by the council of respondent:

The respondent MCGM council Shri Sanjaykumar D. Pandav states that the completion of the project is essential for the public need, as the proposed road would be a shortcut for the movement of traffic, which would reduce the travel time from 35 minutes to 5 minutes. The project works for a large public advantage would help in reducing fuel consumption, which will ultimately help to promote a healthy environment in the area in question.

The council also stated that the MCGM had appointed NEERI, NIO, and the Mangrove Society of India for carrying out the Rapid Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study. The MCGM also applied for the NOC from the Forest Department which is pending consideration. After the approval and clearance of all the report to MCGM had started the planning of this project. It is also stated that there would be replantation of trees as per the direction of the tree authority. At last, it is requested by this court that the PIL petition is misconceived and deserves to be dismissed.

Final Judgment:

  •   The court rejected the primary concern of petition contention on the project plan of the MCGM being defective and faulty as they are no experts in the field of planning. as it was established by the MCGM that it has undertaken the help of experts in the field of planning the public need and utilities. Hence, the petitioner’s contention of the project plan being faulty is required to be rejected.
  •     The court stands with regards to the contention on the mangrove being affected by the project in issues, as the MCGM during the pendency of the PIL has obtained clearance for the project from all the required authorities. As the work was already being stopped by the interim order passed by the court. Therefore, the court permits the MCGM to complete the project according to the NOC from authorities   
  •     Further the court held that all the contention raised by the petitioner council were not valid, thus this court order the dismiss of the petition.

[1] Under article 226 of the constitution of India  

[2] PIL No. 89/2006

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