Law’s nature


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FIVE important judgements of the Supreme Court of India, all authored by Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan, forge new directions for the legal recognition of nature.

In the Asiatic Wild Buffalo judgement dated 13 February 2012, Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Chandramauli Kumar Prasad issued a series of directions to the Chhattisgarh government to protect the endangered Asiatic wild buffalo.1 In the Red Sanders judgement, also dated 13 February 2012, the same two judges issued a series of directions to the central government and to state governments for the conservation and regulation of the sandalwood plant.2 In the Gir Lion judgement dated 15 April 2013, the two judges declared that endangered Asiatic lions, found only in Gujarat’s Gir forests, be provided a second natural habitat at Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno wildlife sanctuary.3

In the Niyamgiri judgement dated 18 April 2013, Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan, Aftab Alam and Ranjan Gogoi directed that a proposed bauxite mining project in Orissa’s forests could not proceed without endorsement from local tribal village assemblies.4 Finally, in the Jallikattu judgement dated 7 May 2014, Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Pinaki Chandra Ghose declared that jallikattu, a traditional bull-taming event in Tamil Nadu, as well as traditional bullock cart races in Maharashtra, were illegal.5

This paper does not examine the implementation of these judgements. What I am instead interested in here are the ontogenies and imaginaries birthed by these legal texts. How has Indian law responded to the claims of the Other – ‘the Animal’, ‘the Plant’ and ‘the Tribal’? What makes these judgements transformational environmental constitutionalism? What spectral possibilities for ‘becoming’ haunt the interstices of the judicial imagination?

I suggest here that new possibilities and becomings, transfigurations of responsibility and sentiment, a heightened consciousness and humanism, an entreaty to a people of the future, all of these manifest through these transformational judgements. I also attempt here to provide an outline of Justice Radhakrishnan’s remarkable contributions to a new jurisprudence for nature in India.


The Asiatic Wild Buffalo, Gir Lion and Jallikattu judgements focus on the legal interests of animals. The Red Sanders judgement focuses on the legal interests of an endangered plant species. Justice Radhakrishnan’s approach in all four of these judgements is similar. Anthropocentric approaches and instrumental valuations of nature are rejected, a more morally justified ‘ecocentric’ approach recognizing the intrinsic value of non-human life is championed, and animals and plants in India are granted hitherto unknown legal protections.

Rather than animals/plants and humans, the Niyamgiri judgement is constructed around a different binary. Difference between tribal and non-tribal humans generates the originary tension here. The judgement, for obvious reasons, does not explicitly mention ecocentric/anthropocentric approaches and intrinsic/instrumental value distinctions. The underlying legal logic, meta-structure, and major premises of this judgement are nonetheless similar to the other four judgements.

An instrumental-anthropocentric approach valuing the Niyamgiri hills only for the bauxite ore that they contain is rejected, a recognition of the ecocentric life-worlds of tribal/ indigenous communities is championed, and both the Niyamgiri hills and locally-resident tribal communities are granted new legal protections.


The Asiatic Wild Buffalo and Red Sanders judgements introduce the radically transformative idea of eco-centrism into Indian law. In these judgements, an ecocentric approach based on the intrinsic value of non-human life is presented as an alternative to hegemonic anthropocentrism, which recognizes non-human life only instrumentally in terms of value for humans. Both judgements stress upon the fundamental duty of citizens under Article 51-A(g) of the Constitution of India ‘to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures.’

The Asiatic Wild Buffalo judgement states: ‘in the universe man and animal are equally placed… environmental justice could be achieved only if we drift away from the principle of anthropocentric to ecocentric… humans are part of nature and non-human has intrinsic value… human interest do not take automatic precedence and humans have obligations to non-humans independently of human interest... therefore life-centred, nature-centred where nature include both humans and non-human.’6

Radical ideas of interspecies equality, biocentric egalitarianism, and the intrinsic value of nature are introduced here as building blocks of ecocentrism. These ideas are also designated as requirements of environmental justice in India. The judgement’s emphatic avowal of human continuity with nature challenges the very fundamentals of liberalism and utilitarianism that presuppose a neat separation between the atomistic individual and nature. Philosophically, the judgement opposes the ‘separation thesis’ promoted by a distinguished line of European thinkers including Socrates, Plato, Descartes, Kant, Heidegger, Lacan and Levinas.7

The Red Sanders judgement applies the ecocentric approach to plants with a focus on the sandalwood species in India. This judgement distinguishes between anthropocentric and ecocentric approaches, and between instrumental value and intrinsic value, in considerably greater detail.


The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy’s entry on ‘Environmental Ethics’ is relied upon and extensively quoted here to declare that ecocentric approaches ‘stress the moral imperatives to respect intrinsic value, inter-dependence and integrity of all forms of life. Ecocentrism supports the protection of all life forms, not just those which are of value to humans or their needs and underlines the fact that humans are just one among the various life forms on earth.’8

Further, the judgement suggests that the ecocentric principle ‘had its roots in India, much before it was thought of in the Western world’, quotes the Isha-Upanishads on inter-species egalitarianism and interspecies rights and privileges, and also approvingly mentions Mahatma Gandhi’s prescience on the treatment of other species.9 The judgement also points out the need for a new legislation on the protection of endangered species in India. The Indian Parliament is urged to seriously consider the issue.

A number of international environmental conventions, for example, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES hereafter), are cited as examples of the recognition of the intrinsic value of the environment. The judgement deems these international conventions as incorporated into domestic Indian law.


Interestingly, the anthropocentric/ecocentric approaches and instrumental/intrinsic value distinctions were included in the submissions of a senior counsel, possibly the amicus curiae P.S. Narasimha, made to the court. Narasimha was also responsible for initially moving the court in the case resulting in the Asiatic Wild Buffalo judgement.

The submissions from the senior counsel appear to have also included two specific claims on eco-centrism and Indian law. First, that the Indian Constitution indeed recognized the ecocentric approach through its emphasis on the duty of citizens to have compassion for living creatures. Second, that principles of Indian environmental law promoted by earlier judgements of the Supreme Court – for example, the public trust doctrine, the precautionary principle, and the polluter pays principle – were rooted in anthropocentric thinking.10 The Red Sanders judgement accepts both these claims.

Both the Asiatic Wild Buffalo and the Red Sanders judgements do not declare distinct legal rights for non-human life under Indian law. The Asiatic Wild Buffalo judgement includes a general comment that the rights of wild animals tend to be of secondary importance in conventional anthropocentric law, while the Red Sanders judgment includes a passing reference to ‘ecological rights’ in the context of international biodiversity conventions.


A careful reading of the judgements leaves one with the impression that Justice Radhakrishnan is clear about the moral rights of non-human life but is uncertain about how best to translate these moral rights to enforceable legal rights in the context of a largely anthropocentric constitutional and legal order in India. The overall emphasis in both judgements therefore remains on the normative superiority of the ecocentric approach, and on the legal duties of the state and citizens in protecting wildlife.

The Gir Lion judgement of 2013 takes forward ecocentrism by mandating a new ‘species best interest standard’ for Indian law. In this case, the court directs the central environment ministry to reintroduce the Asiatic lions to Kuno wildlife sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh and to constitute an expert committee to oversee the relocation. Much of the language on ecocentrism and anthropocentrism from the Asiatic Wild Buffalo and Red Sanders judgements is reproduced verbatim here.

The amicus curiae P.S. Narasimha again plays an important role here through submissions highlighting the need for extreme urgency in protecting the Asiatic lion, the normative superiority of ecocentric approaches, and Articles 48-A and 51-A of the Constitution of India.11

Quite ironically, the Gujarat government argues against the relocation of the lions by submitting in court that the Asiatic lion was ‘a family member’ and hence could not be parted with. Notwithstanding the interspecies kinship connoted by this unusual submission, the court rejects this argument as an anthropocentric one, and declares that an ecocentric approach based on scientific reasoning and the best interests of the species would support the decision to relocate some of the lions.12

The judgement also amplifies the point initially made in the 2012 Red Sanders judgement: the need for a new legislation in India for the preservation and protection of endangered species. The judgement emphasizes ‘the necessity of an exclusive parliamentary legislation for the preservation and protection of endangered species so as to carry out the recovery programmes before many of the species become extinct.’13


The judgement concludes with specific directions to the central government and the central environment ministry to take urgent steps to preserve specific endangered animal species, to identify and survey all endangered species of flora and fauna and to undertake periodic reviews, and with an exhortation that ‘[c]ourts and environmentalists should pay more attention for implementing the recovery programmes and the same be carried out with imagination and commitment.’14

The species best interest standard is not defined in the judgement apart from a brief statement that the best interest of the Asiatic lions would apply.15 As compared to the Asiatic Wild Buffalo and Red Sanders judgements, the Gir Lion judgement is distinctive in its heavy reliance on scientific evidence, particularly from eminent wildlife biologists who participated in the court proceedings, as a method to discern the best interests of the Asiatic lions.


The judgement, attempting to link ecocentrism, the best interest of species, the rights of animals, and human duties to animals, states: ‘We reiterate that while examining the necessity of a second home for the Asiatic lions, our approach should be ecocentric and not anthropocentric and we must apply the "species best interest standard", that is the best interest of the Asiatic lions. We must focus our attention to safeguard the interest of species, as species has equal rights to exist on this earth… we are committed to safeguard this endangered species because this species has a right to live on this earth, just like human beings.’16

Articles 48-A and 51-A of the Constitution of India, traditionally considered to be non-enforceable policy directions to the state and non-enforceable duties of citizens respectively, do not support enforceable legal rights for animals or enforceable legal duties of humans towards animals. The Gir Lion judgement breaks new ground in Indian constitutional and environmental law through two creative interpretive formulations that raise new possibilities for law’s conceptualization of nature.

First, the judgement suggests that ‘Article 21 of the Constitution of India protects not only the human rights but also casts an obligation on human beings to protect and preserve a specie becoming extinct, conservation and protection of environment is an inseparable part of right to life.’17 Next, the court reinterprets the ‘public trust’ doctrine applied by it in earlier environmental cases to suggest that the ‘State, as a custodian of the natural resources, has a duty to maintain them not merely for the benefit of the public, but for the best interest of flora and fauna, wildlife and so on.’18 While this analysis is not detailed any further in the judgement, what we see here are enforceable duties towards non-human life being ascribed to individual human beings and to the state.

This takes us one step closer to the articulation of enforceable rights for nature. The prioritization of the best interests of non-human species when we take decisions is constitutionally transformational in how it alters our legal responsibilities and sense of scruples.

In the context of the Niyamgiri judgement discussed subsequently, one factual detail recorded in the Gir Lion judgement warrants a brief digression here. Over 1500 tribal families from 24 villages in Kuno wildlife sanctuary were relocated in 2000 to make way for the Asiatic lions from Gujarat. Not a single lion has been relocated to Kuno. Apart from dispassionately noting the number of families evicted, the Gir Lion judgement does not dwell upon the possible injustices meted out to those evicted/relocated tribal communities in Madhya Pradesh.19


The Niyamgiri judgement was delivered on 18 April 2013, three days after the Gir Lion judgement. Sterlite, an Indian subsidiary of London headquartered multinational mining corporation Vedanta Resources Plc, planned to mine bauxite ore from the forested Niyamgiri hills for its alumina refinery plant in the nearby town of Lanjigarh. The mining was to be carried out in partnership with the Orissa Mining Corporation. On 24 August 2010, Jairam Ramesh, the then Indian environment minister, rejected the proposed project’s application for the diversion of forests. This order of the central environment ministry was challenged before the Supreme Court.


The Dongria Kondh, pre-modern tribal communities living in the Niyamgiri region, believe that their supreme deity, Niyam-Raja (literally Lord of Law), provider and keeper of the forests, lives in the Niyamgiri hills. For the Dongri Kondh, everything within their world belongs to Niyam-Raja, and Niyam-Raja is everything. The Dongria Kondh have consistently argued that forest rights in Niyamgiri should be issued in Niyam-Raja’s name. Further, they consider that their way of life, as protectors of the many streams of Niyamgiri, as Niyam-Raja’s kith and kin, ‘guided by the proximity to the moods and rhythms of nature, commanding respect for and cooperation with natural forces’, to be allied to Niyam-Raja’s sacred law that disallows unsustainable exploitation of the forests.20

The court directs the Orissa government to facilitate tribal village assemblies to decide on issues relating to forest claims and the proposed project. These decisions were to inform the central environment ministry’s final decision on the proposed project. The court also advises Vedanta’s alumina refinery project to take steps to rectify alleged violations of the environmental clearance that it had received.


The Niyamgiri judgement relies on the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (Forest Rights Act, 2006 hereafter) to hold that local tribal village assemblies would need to decide on all claims to individual and community rights to the forest land involved before the proposed mining project could be approved. These assembly deliberations were to include consideration of cultural and religious claims. The judgement explicitly declares that the Dongria Kondh’s right to worship Niyam-Raja receives constitutional protection under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India.21

The judgement’s recognition of the unique way of life of the Niyamgiri tribals and of indigenous people in general is particularly noteworthy. The characterization of indigenous/tribal life in the judgement has striking resemblance to the ‘ecocentric’ approach developed in the earlier cases discussed here. According to this characterization, tribal/indigenous people are an interdependent part of nature and not separate from it. Further, tribal/indigenous communities have a duty to safeguard and protect nature. Finally, tribal/indigenous communities have a distinctive spiritual relationship with nature that is not based on purely instrumental considerations.

The judgement highlights that tribal communities ‘have a right to maintain their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands… They have a vital role to play in the environmental management and development because of their knowledge and traditional practices. State has got a duty to recognize and duly support their identity, culture and interest so that they can effectively participate in achieving sustainable development… [tribal] communities whose right to life depends on right to forests… dwelling in the forests for generations in symbiotic relationship with the entire ecosystem… [tribal] duties include preservation of habitat from any form of destructive practices affecting their cultural and natural heritage… Gram Sabha [village assembly] can also examine whether the proposed mining area Niyama Danger, 10 km away from the peak, would in any way affect the abode of Niyam-Raja. Needless to say, if the BMP [Bauxite Mining Project], in any way, affects their religious rights, especially their right to worship their deity, known as Niyam-Raja, in the hills top of the Niyamgiri range of hills, that right has to be preserved and protected … the right to practice and propagate not only matters of faith or belief, but all those rituals and observations which are regarded as integral part of their religion.’22


This judgement is a complex one, and I faced considerable difficulty in deciding whether or not to include it in this essay. Finally, I decided that discussion of the judgement did belong here for a number of reasons. First, the Niyamgiri judgement demonstrates legal consideration of a ‘non-human life’ of a spectacularly different sort – a nature God living in the mountain and revered by the local tribal community. Second, the judgement endorses the ecocentric way of life of the Niyamgiri tribals. This raises the suggestion that indigenous communities can teach us how to respond to modernity’s current predicament of ecological and climate crisis. Third, the judgement highlights the ecocentric approach of the Forest Rights Act, 2006. Fourth, the judgement demonstrates a clear pathway to environmental justice by reifying rights and duties of local human communities that are an integral part of the nature being threatened. Finally, this judgement helps us better appreciate Justice Radhakrishnan’s contribution to transformative environmental constitutionalism in India.


Justice Radhakrishnan’s biggest challenge in the Niyamgiri judgement is in accommodating the Dongria Kondh’s mythic worldview of reverential, sensuous immediacy with nature within the rights-centric, individualistic, and positivistic scientific rationality of modern Indian law. Justice Radhakrishnan is, institutionally and habitually, constrained to speak here in the reductionist vocabulary of liberalism, utilitarianism, and equal rights.23

The judgement nonetheless succeeds in protecting the Niyamgiri hills by emphasizing the rights and duties of tribal communities under statutory and constitutional law. Ultimately, the judgement can be viewed as one that endorses the rights of tribal communities to participate in decision-making that affects forests inhabited or traditionally used by them, and also provides for constitutional protection of nature worship by indigenous communities.


Turning to the final judgement discussed here, the Jallikattu judgement was delivered on 7 May 2014, exactly one week before Justice Radhakrishnan retired from the Supreme Court. Justice Radhakrishnan points out that the judgement involves ‘an issue of seminal importance with regard to the Rights of Animals under our Constitution, laws, culture, tradition, religion and ethology, which we have to examine, in connection with the conduct of Jallikattu, bullock-cart races etc. in the states of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.’24

The judgement emphasises the ecocentric-anthropocentric and intrinsic-instrumental distinctions from the earlier cases discussed here, reaffirms the species best interest standard from the Gir Lion judgement, and then unambiguously declares the existence of specific enumerated rights for animals in India. The legal case largely revolves around the interpretation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA hereafter), and Justice Radhakrishan suggests that the court ‘has also a duty under the doctrine of parens patriae to take care of the rights of animals, since they are unable to take care of themselves as against human beings.’25

Unlike the earlier Asiatic Wild Buffalo, Red Sanders, and Gir Lion judgements relating to endangered wildlife, Justice Radhakrishnan has little difficulty in arriving at rights for animals in the context of alleged cruelty to domestic animals like bulls and bullocks. The judgement relies on Section 3 in the PCA that place duties on persons having charge of animals to ‘take all reasonable measures to ensure the well-being of such animal and to prevent the infliction upon such animal of unnecessary pain or suffering’ to declare correlative rights for animals. Accordingly, Section 3 of the PCA ‘confers corresponding rights on the animals as against the persons in-charge or care, as well as AWBI [the Animal Welfare Board of India], to ensure their well-being and be not inflicted with any unnecessary pain or suffering.’26 It is important to note here that these rights, unlike the earlier judgements, apply to individual animals and not just to the species of animals.


Having declared rights for domestic animals under the PCA, the Jallikattu judgement then makes a series of bold moves to strengthen rights for animals under Indian constitutional and public law. First, the judgement declares that provisions in the PCA are to be read with Articles 51-A(g) and 51-(A)(h) of the Constitution of India that cast a duty on all citizens to have compassion for living creatures, and to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform, respectively. This allows the court to suggest in general terms that concern for suffering, sympathy, kindliness, benevolence, compassion, and mercy must guide the duties of Indian citizens towards animals.

Second, the judgement refers with approval to the endorsement of ecocentric principles in the earlier Asiatic Buffalo, Red Sanders, and Gir Lion judgements, details a slow but observable shift from anthropocentric approaches to ‘nature’s right centric’ approaches in international environmental law, and then extends the application of ecocentrism to the general rights of all animals from its earlier limited context of endangered wildlife species.

Third, the judgement refers to comparative animal welfare law (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and Norway), to the Universal Declaration of Animal Welfare, and to the guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health, to read five fundamental freedoms for animals into the PCA and into Indian law generally. The five freedoms are: freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition; freedom from fear and distress; freedom from physical and thermal discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; and freedom to express normal patterns of behaviour.


Fourth, the judgement declares that the PCA is an ecocentric welfare legislation that overrides the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009 that permitted jallikattu. The PCA also overrides any claims suggesting that cruelty to bulls is a part of Tamil culture and tradition. The judgement goes so far as to point out that ‘Tamil tradition and culture are to worship the bull and the bull is considered as the vehicle of Lord Shiva’, before again citing the Isha-Upanishads to proclaim interspecies egalitarianism and inter-species rights and privileges as part of the true culture of India.27

Fifth, the judgement attempts again to link animal rights and animal welfare to the expansive notion of human rights to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Like in the Gir Lion judgement, the analysis is not adequately developed on this point.

Finally, the judgement introduces the concept of ‘speciesism’, that is ‘a prejudice or attitude of bias towards the interest of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species’, and suggests that the PCA in India combats speciesism in the same way that constitutional and statutory provisions have overcome inequalities such as casteism, racism, sexism, etc.

Of all the judgements discussed in this essay, this is the judgement where Justice Radhakrishnan’s personal ethical compulsions and his vision for Indian law are most visible. His discussion of ethological insights as they relate to the bulls used in jallikattu carries the imprint of someone who, as he considers the pain and distress of the animals involved, is in visceral pain himself. At another point early in the judgement, he openly states that the international community ‘should hang their head in shame, for not recognizing their [animals’] rights all these ages, a species which served the humanity from the time of Adam and Eve.’28 The judgement advocates, several times, for the rights of animals to be elevated to fundamental constitutional rights, and also includes intrinsic worth, honour, dignity, fair treatment, and privacy as essential entitlements for animals in some general comments.


The judgement concludes with a wide-ranging series of directions that reiterate the existence of animal rights and freedoms under the PCA; declare the unconstitutionality of the Tamil Nadu state legislation permitting jallikattu; exhort the Animal Welfare Board of India and governments to implement the PCA in the spirit of the judgement and to impart education in relation to the treatment of animals in accordance with Articles 51-A(g) and (h) of the Constitution of India; and urge the Indian Parliament to amend the PCA to effectively deter animal cruelty and also to elevate the rights of animals to constitutional rights to protect their dignity and honour.

Does nature have rights? Should the mountain abode of a tribal god in Orissa be protected from mining? Can animal cruelty be a part of Indian culture? The five judgements discussed here, as kaleidoscopic institutional registers at the intersection of law, politics and philosophy, depict tendencies and counter-tendencies of an unfolding Indian modernity. As artefacts of transformative environmental constitutionalism, these judgements reveal hitherto hidden interpretive possibilities for Indian law. Emboldened courts in India have declared legal personhood for rivers and for other kinds of nature in recent times.29


Textual silences and legal elisions in the judgements’ responses to difficult questions raise aporias of justice, difference, and sacrality. In all five judgements, we see a liberal, rights-centric, individualistic frame struggling to contain the seeds of non-Socratic, non-Cartesian, eastern philosophies and lived experiences on the interconnected nature of life.30

Powerful challenges to the core premises of liberalism and utilitarianism glitter at us through the dark ink of these judgements. In this realm of textual and semiotic indeterminacy, congealed classifications and categories – of culture, nature, human, Indian, tradition, modernity and life – dissolve and potentially reconstitute in transient interludes in wait of new taxonomies and visionaries.


* Participants at an early-stage research presentation in February 2019 at the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) provided useful comments. Peter John Shaji assisted with early research on Justice Radhakrishnan in 2013. I am grateful to the editors, in particular Amit Bindal, for extraordinary patience and for helpful comments on an abstract of this essay.


1. T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India, (2012) 3 SCC 277.

2. T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India, (2012) 4 SCC 362.

3. Centre for Environment Law, WWF-I v. Union of India, (2013) 8 SCC 234.

4. Orissa Mining Corporation v. Ministry of Environment & Forest, (2013) 6 SCC 476.

5. Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja, (2014) 7 SCC 547.

6. T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India, (2012) 3 SCC 277 at para 9 and para 14.

7. See Abhayraj Naik and Rachel Chenchiah, ‘Violent Beasts and Legal Animals’, in Jyoti Dogra Sood and Latika Vashist (eds.), Law, Violence and Justice. Oxford University Press, New Delhi, forthcoming 2019.

8. Available at ntries/ethics-environmental/ (last visited on 30 May 2019).

9. T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India, (2012) 4 SCC 362 at para 20 and para 21.

10. Id., para 8.

11. Centre for Environment Law, WWF-I v. Union of India, (2013) 8 SCC 234 at para 22. Article 48-A provides that the state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country, whereas Article 51-A(g) provides that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.

12. Centre for Environment Law, WWF-I v. Union of India, (2013) 8 SCC 234 at para 48 and para 49.

13. Id. at para 63.

14. Ibid.

15. This standard first appeared in a 1994 resolution at the Ninth Conference of the Parties to CITES. See generally, Barnabas Dickson, ‘The Precautionary Principle in CITES: A Critical Assessment’, Natural Resources Journal 39, 1999, p. 211.

16. Centre for Environment Law, WWF-I v. Union of India, (2013) 8 SCC 234 at para 40.

17. Id., para 41.

18. Ibid.

19. See also, Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava, ‘Displaced for Nothing’, Down to Earth, 7 June 2015, available at: https://www.

20. Meenal Tatpati, Ashish Kothari and Rashi Mishra, ‘The Niyamgiri Story: Challenging the Idea of Growth Without Limits’, in Neera Singh (eds.), Ecologies of Hope and Transformation: Post-Development Alternatives From India. Kalpavriksh and SOPPECOM, Pune, 2018, at p. 91 and 92.

21. Article 25 provides that all persons ‘are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion’ whereas Article 26 provides that every religious denomination shall have the right ‘to manage its own affairs in matters of religion.’

22. Orissa Mining Corporation v. Ministry of Environment & Forest, (2013) 6 SCC 476 at para 38, 39, 42, 46, 55 and 58.

23. On this point, see generally, Amit Bindal, ‘Resurrecting the Other of "Modern" Law: Investigating Niyamgiri Judgment and Legal Epistemology’, Journal of Indian Law and Society 5, 2014, pp. 237-247.

24. Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja, (2014) 7 SCC 547 at para 2.

25. Id., para 26.

26. Id., para 28.

27. Id., para 42. The relevant excerpt from the Isha-Upanishads reads: ‘The universe along with its creatures belongs to the land. No creature is superior to any other. Human beings should not be above nature. Let no one species encroach over the rights and privileges of other species.’

28. Id., para 47.

29. See generally, Palash Srivastava, ‘Legal Personality of Ganga and Ecocentrism: A Critical Review’, Cambridge Law Review 4(1), 2019, pp. 151-168.

30. The inflections here have a bearing on our ongoing epistemological responses to colonialism and colonial difference. Achille Mbembe characterizes ‘[c]olonization as an enterprise of domestication [that] includes at least three factors: the appropriation of the animal (the native) by the human (the colonist); the familiarization of man (the colonist) and the animal (the native); and the utilization of the animal (the native) by the human (the colonist).’ See Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2001, p. 237.