The Supreme Court Friday directed the Indian government to ban the import of toxic wastes which had been identified and declared hazardous under an international convention.
The court said this while disposing a petition by the Research Foundation for Science Technology and Natural Resources Policy.
The petition sought direction to the government to ban the import of all hazardous/toxic wastes and the amendment of rules in conformity with the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal and Article 21, 47 and 48A of the Indian constitution.
"The central government is also directed to bring the Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, in line with the Basel convention and Articles 21, 47 and 48A of the constitution," said an apex court bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J. Chelameswar.
Justice Kabir rejected the contention that "without adequate protection to the workers and public, the aforesaid rules are violative of the fundamental rights of the citizens and are, therefore, unconstitutional".
The plea moved through the petitioner organisation's director Vandana Shiva also sought declaration by the court that without adequate protection to the workers and public and without any provision of sound environment management of disposal of hazardous/toxic wastes, the rules were violative of the fundamental rights.
The court noted that the basic grievance of the petitioner was with regard to the import of toxic wastes from industrialised countries to India, despite such wastes being hazardous to the environment.
The petitioner challenged the decision of the environment and forests ministry permitting import of toxic wastes under the cover of recycling.