Madras High Court: Stating that the past generations have handed over the ‘Mother Earth’ to us in its pristine glory, S. Srimathy, J., expressed that it is the right time to declare/confer juristic status to the “Mother Nature”.

Factual matrix

It was stated in the present matter that, the petitioner had served in the Revenue Department for the past 35 years and lastly served as Distillery Officer in the cadre of Deputy Collector in the Rajashree Sugars and Chemicals Private Limited. The petitioner attained superannuation in 2006 and was not allowed to retire but was placed under suspension because of the pendency of the disciplinary proceedings.

Further, in 2009, the Government decided to impose the punishment of compulsory retirement for the proven charges and later in 2012, by a Government Order, the petitioner was eligible for 2/3rd pension and the 1/3rd of the eligible pension and the retirement gratuity was reduced as penalty.

Petitioner contended that the Government did not provide any opportunity before imposing the punishment.

Hence, aggrieved with the above, petitions were filed.

Analysis and Decision

High Court opined that, since the co-delinquent’s disciplinary proceedings were quashed, the petitioner was entitled to the same benefit. The Bench added that the delinquents deserved to be treated equally in the matter of punishment in departmental proceedings for the acts of omissions and commissions.

The Bench while noting that the land in question was classified as “forest land”, observed that the mother nature ought to be preserved.

Indiscriminate destruction or change is leading to several complications in ecosystem, ultimately is endangering the very existence of the animals, flora and fauna, forests, rivers, lakes, water bodies, mountains, glaciers, air and of course human. Strangely the destruction is carried on by few humans. Any such act ought to be checked at all levels. 

Invoking the “parens patriae jurisdiction”, Court declared the “Mother Nature” as a “Living Being” having legal entity/legal person/juristic person/juridicial person/moral person/artificial person having the status of a legal person, with all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person, in order to preserve and conserve them.

Adding to the above, Court stated that, the State Government and the Central Government are directed to protect the “Mother Nature” and take appropriate steps to protect Mother Nature in all possible ways.

High Court held that, since the petitioner had issued patta to the Megamalai forest land, the petitioner ought to be punished.

Lastly, the Court concluded by stating that the punishment of compulsory retirement ought to be modified as a stoppage of increment for six months without cumulative effect and consequential monetary benefits shall be conferred on the petitioner.

In view of the above discussion, petitions were allowed.[A. Periyakaruppan v. Revenue Department, 2022 SCC OnLine Mad 2077, decided on 19-4-2022]

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