Legal Implications of Plachimada Case.
Popular medias celebrated the plachimada issue as the fight of an indigenous section against a multi national corporation. It has also been drawn as a reaction against the ill effects of globalization policy. But for a law student it is a question of validity of common law right of absolute proprietorship of a landowner over the resources in his land. This validity is to be decided in the present context of conservation philosophy evolved through the international environmental jurisprudence.
Most of the environmental principles incorporated by the Indian apex court have emanated from International Environmental Jurisprudence .One of the cardinal principle relevant to the current discussion is the Public Trust Doctrine.
. But there exist some theoretical problem with regard to the scope and application of Public Trust Doctrine, especially when it comes in the area is of ground water in private properties. This discussion becomes more relevant in the light of traditional common law right of absolute proprietorship over the resources like ground water in land. Hence an analysis of Public Trust Doctrine and the common law jurisprudence on ground water is necessary.
Common law recognizes the absolute right of individuals over their land. Hence landowner can exploit the natural resources in his land to any extend. This right is now being questioned through plachimada case. Legal system is not static. It is dynamic and changes according to the social conditions. The present social condition necessitates the restriction on absolute common law rights. This is justified in public interest. This is very relevant so far as the environmental matters are concerned. This approach is very much apparent in Indian forest laws.
Kerala High Court, in two instances, had taken contradictory views, when this question came before it through plachimada case. The matter is still pending before the Supreme Court for final decision.
Hence, it is appropriate to discuss the principles in these areas, and also as what should be the approach of the legal system regarding the individual right over natural resources like ground water. Though there is a statute in Kerala for controlling over exploitation of ground water, it is not that effective and is not being properly implemented. Therefore it requires a second look in the light of legal implications of plachimada case.