Uttarakhand High Court declared Ganga and Yamuna and their tributaries as living entities having the status of a legal person. This is the first time that a court has recognised a non-human as a living entity in India.
o The order grants these rivers a new-found legal identity and all rights laid out in the Constitution. They can also be parties to disputes. The rights, can be used to protect the interests of the rivers.
o While giving the “legal status” of living humans to the country’s two of the most sacred rivers, the court had said the Director, Namami Gange project for cleaning and rejuvenating the river, the Chief Secretary and the Advocate General of Uttarakhand would act as the “legal parents” of the holy rivers. The court also said they have been tasked to work as the human face to protect, conserve and preserve them and their tributaries.
o The HC’s decision comes just days after New Zealand according a living entity status to its third largest river, Whanganui, in one of the longest running court cases that country has seen.
o The legal status is an extension of the philosophy of allowing a river to flow freely—as was intended in its nature. Any interference with the river as a whole, including construction of dams, takes away from its essential and basic character. Such a move by court would involve a re-look into construction activities across the river such as sand mining and construction of dams.
NARMADA - LIVING ENTITY
o Madhya Pradesh government passed a resolution granting river Narmada the status of a living entity and committed itself to the protection of its legal rights. o The living entity status will mean that the Narmada will be owner of all property and litigation for its conservation could be initiated on the river’s behalf. The river’s biodiversity will be protected.