M C Mehta
M C Mehta
Name - Mahesh Chandra Mehta
Born - October 12, 1946
Designation - Public interest attorney from India
Alma mater - LLB Jammu University
Awards - Ramon Magsaysay , Padma Shri
Cases - Taj mahal case
Vehicular pollution case
Oleum Gas Leak Case
Delhi sewage treatment plant case
Child labour case
Delhi ridge case
Dust pollution case
Kamal nath case
Coastal areas case
Antop hill case
Gamma chamber case
Ground water pollution case
Ground water depletion case
Born on October 12, 1946 M C Mehta (Mahesh Chander Mehta) belongs to a small village in district Rajouri in the State of Jammu & Kashmir (India). It was here that his love for nature, instilled in him a sense of commitment towards protecting the environment. He got his education up to primary level in his village Dhangri. Later, to get higher education he had to join School at Rajouri. For few years he travelled from his village to School and back by crossing two rivers and about 15 km. of distance every day. After his schooling at Rajouri he moved to Jammu and completed his Post Graduation in Political Science and Law degree from Jammu University and started his practice in Jammu & Kashmir High Court. During his stay in Jammu he took active part in social and political issues. He raised his voice against corruption and motivated students and youth to fight against discrimination taking place with the Jammu region. He remained President of The Youth Action Committee and pioneered the Social and Political causes. His career as a Supreme Court lawyer began in 1983, when he migrated to Delhi. In 1984, he began focusing on environmental litigation.
In the words of Ms Smita Gate “Often described as the One Man Enviro-legal Brigade, Mr Mehta is probably the only Supreme Court lawyer to have taken up legal cudgels with the polluting Indian Industries and come out victorious. A dedicated, fearless and extremely honest man, he pursues his goals with single-minded devotion. He has been conferred with several prestigious awards. Some of these are the Governor’s Gold Medal, the Goldman Environmental Prize, considered on alternative Noble Prize in USA and Europe, the UN’s Global 500 Award for 1993 and above all the Magsaysay Award for 1997.
M.C. Mehta single-handedly won numerous landmark judgments from India’s Supreme Court since 1984, including introducing lead-free gasoline to India and reducing the industrial pollution fouling the Ganges and eroding the Taj Mahal.
In early 1984, M.C. Mehta, a public interest attorney, visited the Taj Mahal for the first time. He saw that the famed monument’s marble had turned yellow and was pitted as a result of pollutants from nearby industries. This spurred Mehta to file his first environmental case in the Supreme Court of India.
The following year, Mehta learned that the Ganges River, considered to be the holiest river in India and used by millions of people every day for bathing and drinking water, caught fire due to industrial effluents in the river. Once again Mehta filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the polluting factories, and the scope of the case was broadened to include all the industries and municipalities in the river basin.
During the years that followed, a courtroom was set aside every Friday just for Mehta’s cases. In 1993, after a decade of court battles and threats from factory owners, the Supreme Court ordered 212 small factories surrounding the Taj Mahal to close because they had not installed pollution control devices. Another 300 factories were put on notice to do the same. The Ganges cases continued to be heard every week, and 5,000 factories along the river were directed to install pollution control devices and 300 factories were closed. Approximately 250 towns and cities in the Ganges Basin have been ordered to set up sewage treatment plants.
Mehta has won additional precedent-setting suits against industries that generate hazardous waste and succeeded in obtaining a court order to make lead-free gasoline available. He has also been working to ban intensive shrimp farming and other damaging activities along India’s 7,000 kilometre coast.
Mehta has succeeded in getting new environmental policies initiated and has brought environmental protection into India’s constitutional framework. He has almost single-handedly obtained about 40 landmark judgements and numerous orders from the Supreme Court against polluters, a record that may be unrivalled by any other environmental lawyer in the world.
He is currently working with the M C Mehta environmental foundation, an NGO that provides training programs for aspiring environmental attorneys and runs numerous environmental justice campaigns
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