[Answered] Explain the constitutional basis of the right to be free from adverse climate effects. Discuss potential implications for future climate litigation and policy-making in India.

Introduction: Contextual Introduction

Body: What is the constitutional basis of the right to be free from adverse climate effects and implications for climate litigation and policymaking?

Conclusion: Way forward

The Supreme Court of India’s recent judgment in M.K. Ranjitsinh and Ors. vs Union of India & Ors. has recognized a new constitutional right to be free from the adverse effects of climate change

Constitutional Basis

  • Right to Life (Article 21): The Supreme Court has interpreted the right to life under Article 21 to include the right to a healthy environment. This implies a right to be free from environmental degradation, which includes the negative impacts of climate change.
  • Right to Equality (Article 14): Climate change disproportionately affects vulnerable communities. The Court has argued that unequal distribution of the burden of climate change violates the right to equality.

Implications for Climate Litigation and Policy-making

  • Stronger Legal Basis for Climate Action: This new interpretation provides a stronger legal foundation for lawsuits against the government for inaction on climate change. Activists and communities can now challenge policies with a higher chance of success.
  • Increased Government Accountability: The recognition of this right increases pressure on the government to take concrete steps to mitigate climate change and adapt to its effects. This could lead to more stringent environmental regulations and climate-resilient infrastructure projects.
  • Focus on Equity: The emphasis on equality in the right to be free from adverse climate effects necessitates policies that address the needs of vulnerable communities most affected by climate change.
  • Business and Civil Society Engagement: An enabling climate law should encourage active participation from businesses, civil society, and local communities. Policies should foster public-private partnerships, support innovative solutions, and leverage the knowledge and capabilities of diverse stakeholders.
  • Judicial Oversight: Courts may play a more active role in overseeing government actions related to climate change. Judicial directives could compel the government to implement specific measures, enforce existing laws more rigorously, or develop new policies to meet climate targets.


The Supreme Court’s recognition of the right to be free from adverse climate effects marks a significant development in India’s constitutional and environmental jurisprudence. To realize this right, India will need to adopt a holistic approach, incorporating robust legal frameworks, coordinated governance, inclusive participation, and equitable policies that address both mitigation and adaptation challenges. This transformative approach is essential for safeguarding the environment and ensuring a sustainable and resilient future for all citizens.

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