Updated: July 3, 2016 6:01:33 am
Favouring a stringent international regime for making all industrialised nations pay for pollution they have caused, Chief Justice of India T S Thakur Saturday reproached the United States for its refusal to ratify the Kyoto agreement on carbon reduction even as developed countries blamed India for emission of greenhouse gases.
In a rare comment by an Indian CJI on a foreign country’s policy, Justice Thakur disapproved of the rejection of the Kyoto agreement on global warming by the US, noting that its contribution to greenhouse gases is many times more than India.
“The US today emits 10 times more carbon per capita than us (India). In Kyoto, a resolution was passed to reduce 1 per cent emission but the US refused. When there is an international regime principle of polluter pays, then only those who have polluted the world till now will pay,” said the CJI as he spoke at a seminar on international law organised in the capital.
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According to Annex I of the Kyoto Protocol, first adopted in 1997, the US emits 35 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases, but the US Senate had refused to ratify it, citing potential damage to the economy required by compliance. Later, then president George Bush and the US administration objected to the distinction of liabilities between Annex 1 and developing countries, and said both needed to reduce their emissions unilaterally.
“Industrialised nations have polluted for the last 200 years,” Justice Thakur said. “Ozone depletion is not because India uses coal. Industrialised nations like America should pay for polluting the world for all these years. After all, human race is affected. The US has been emitting 10 times more carbon than India but we are blamed for pollution and climate change.”
He emphasised that “violation of environmental laws in one developed country affects the entire humanity” and added that carbon emissions by industrialised countries affected people around the globe.
The CJI underscored the significance of international law in current times and said the impact of international law is such that “even you are affected when some other country pollutes”.
He said, “We must be aware of what is happening around us. We must be in tune with the times and be capable of handling them. There are many issues affecting us which have international law perspectives. Distances and borders are becoming irrelevant in today’s world because of technology.”
Stating that “the next World War could be over river water”, Justice Thakur added that the dimension of international law i formidable, apart from its importance in trade and commerce.
He also referred to disputes relating to custody of children when one of the parents resides in the jurisdiction of a foreign court and obtains a favourable order, saying Indian courts may not endorse all such decisions.
“Whether or not Hague convention principles can be followed depends on each case, in the best interest of the child. There are situations where you cannot respect decisions of a US court,” said Justice Thakur while noting that the conflict of jurisdictions and comity of nations is also a major issue.
Supreme Court judge Justice A K Sikri, who also spoke at the seminar, said that it is a subject of debate whether the apex court has overreached its powers in issuing directives in cases such as Vishaka, wherein elaborate directions were given to curb sexual harassment at work places. “When it comes to human rights, the Vishaka case is applauded the world over. It is a subject of debate whether the Supreme Court is overreaching its powers,” he said.
Justice Sikri pointed out that the Supreme Court can apply the principles of international treaties and conventions in the context of fundamental rights provided by the Indian Constitution to its citizens.
“We had to bank on international human rights laws to recognise transgenders as third gender since the Indian law was in conflict,” said Justice Sikri who, along with another judge on the bench, had granted constitutional recognition to transgenders.
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