Some years ago, in his contribution to a collection of essays on the Supreme Court and the Indian Constitution, Pratap Bhanu Mehta emphasized the political significance of the Court, saying, “there is not a single important issue of political life in India that has not been, by accident or design, profoundly shaped by its interventions … the courts participate and collaborate in governing India” (Mehta 2006, 162). How exactly might this happen? In beginning to explore answers to this question, I want to focus on the formation of a distinct environmental jurisprudence and its relationship to the changing and dynamic qualities of a democratic polity in India. And in formulating my analysis I draw here on my current work on courts and the environment in India or how the environment came to be a legal object in India over the last century.

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