Written by Shaurya Mahajan
The Madras High Court in the case of A. Periyakaruppan v. The Principal Secretary to Government and Another invoked the “parens patriae jurisdiction” and declared “Mother Nature” as a “Living Being”, having a legal entity and having the status of a legal person, with all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of an l living person, to preserve and conserve them.
The Madurai bench of Justice S. Srimathy delivered the decision. The bench also noted that nature shall have fundamental rights/ legal rights and constitutional rights for its survival, safety and sustenance, and resurgence to maintain its status and also to promote its health and wellbeing. The court also directed the State Government and the Central Government to take appropriate steps to protect mother earth in all possible ways.
The court made the above observations in a petition filed by a former Taluk Tahsildar to quash the Government Order imposing compulsory retirement and a penalty of reduction of 1/3rd pension and other retirement benefits for colluding with other officers and granting Patta in forest lands to private to private individuals. The petitioner served in the Revenue Department for the past 35 years and served as Distillery Officer in the cadre of Deputy Collector in the Rajashree Sugars and Chemicals Private Limited, Varadraj, Nagar, Periyakulam Taluk, Theni District. After attaining the age of superannuation, he was not permitted to retire and was placed under suspension citing the pendency of disciplinary proceedings against him.
Through the GO dated 06.04.2009, the Government punished him by imposing compulsory retirement, and by GO dated 17.08.2012, the Government ordered that the petitioner shall be eligible for only 2/3rd of the pension and DCRG. The 1/3rd of the eligible pension and the retirement gratuity was reduced as a penalty.
The court opined that though the punishment of co-delinquent was quashed or dropped and the entries were also modified and pattas cancelled since the land in question was classified as “Forest Land” necessary intervention was needed. The court, therefore, modified the order of compulsory retirement as a stoppage of increment for six months without cumulative effect.