After the declaration of the Cap Town as the first dry town in the world when zero water availability certified there, it compelled the whole world to think and discuss over the water crisis which would be the major concern in coming years. It is a bare truth that after air the water is, second most immediate substance which is necessarily required for human beings for their existence. The role which water plays in human life cannot be questioned and fresh water is indispensable for human life. Since last two decades water has been clothed with the rights by linking this with the human life. The link of life with water given a generic debate on legislative part which further interpreted by apex courts on their own ways considering the significance of the water.(Cullet, 2013)International bodies also interpreted the laws in such a manner which given water as a status of right but this depends upon the approach of individual country whether it would be accepted or not. Since India having liberal approach in this regards, Indian judiciary interpreted it according to the need and demand of Indian population and levied with the various provisions of Indian Constitution. The idea that right to water as a human right gives a way to the human inspiration which is connected with the religious and welfare activity. It reflects from the fact that people of different places themselves offer fresh drinking water to the needy in the public places. This article examines the right based approach of Indian society related to the water and its judicial interpretation. The discussion must be elaborated with the various judgement of Indian judiciary and various provisions of Indian Constitution which include fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy. Reason being, the water having unconditional significance in daily life of human beings which compelled policy makers to come up with strong policy and committed political aspirations. This reflects through various water policies and schemes framed at the union and state level. The government came with many new water laws and water policy reforms and these came in last two decades. (Madhav) This shows that the water has been provided a status of right with proper attention in the context of human rights.


The Indian Constitution is the primary document explaining the establishment of the Government of India and is based on the distribution of power among government agencies. It is called the Indian Citizen’s Bible (Praveen, 2014) because it ensures that citizens enjoy a variety of basic rights to protect their lives and freedoms. This is the basic principle of national policy and is responsible for the state’s failure to fulfil its obligations. Citizens, where citizens are the primary duty to the state and others, should protect their basic rights in a better way (2006). The Indian Constitution is one of the few provisions on the protection of the world’s environment, including water conservation. These regulations have the effect of the Stockholm Conference on various environmental protection issues at the international level (Desai, 1987), which is why there is no clear provision for water in the Indian Constitution despite the adoption of these regulations due to the interpretation of the judiciary. This is the correct way. Some specific provisions related to water also include the right to life, Article 21, and the right to water. It says:

Article 21: Protection of life and personal freedom: “No one should be deprived of their own life or personal freedom unless they follow the procedures established by law.”

The basic rights listed in the Constitution, which came into force in 1950, include equality, freedom, life, education, freedom of exploitation and forced labour, freedom of religion, minority and cultural rights, and rights to constitutional relief. The Bill of Rights does not explicitly recognize concessions and does not refer to them in the guiding principles (Sharma, 2015).

The rights set out in Article 21 are a set of various rights derived from the basic rights of the Constitution. With a new interpretation of Article 21 (Singh C., Indian Rights), customary rights have been legalized as constitutionally guaranteed rights. India is an example of another country where domestic courts have obtained human rights to get safe drinking water from other basic rights. The Indian Supreme Court has over 1.5 billion citizens in 35 states and federal territories. The Indian Supreme Court interpreted the “right to life” (Article 21 of the 1950 Constitution) freely to obtain rights to water (Norbert Brunner, 2015).

The basic principles of national policy (Articles 36-51) were embodied in Part 4 of the Constitution.

The basic principle of national policy uses the term “environment” in a broad sense. It refers to the collection of all extreme conditions and effects that affect the life and development of human, animal and plant organs. It is worth emphasizing that the guidelines in Article 39, 47 and 48A require states to not only adopt protectionist policies but also provide improvements in environmental pollution. Thus, the state can limit the use of factors that affect the life and development of humans, animals and plants. You can also take steps to improve your environment.

The rules are as follows. Article 39 The State specifically guides policies to ensure that: (b) The method of allocating and controlling community data resources should provide as much public interest as possible. (c) The operation of the economic system focuses on wealth and means of production in general damage.

Article 47 State’s responsibility for improving nutrition, improving living standards and improving public health: States should consider improving nutrition, improving people’s living standards and public health, among other major responsibilities, and in particular the state should endeavour to ban the removal of chemicals In addition, it is forbidden to drink unhealthy drinks and drugs.

Article 48 Agriculture and livestock organization: States should endeavour to modernize and scientifically organize agriculture and livestock, and in particular take measures to protect and improve the breeds of cattle, calves and calves and to prohibit slaughter. Eat other livestock and buffalo.

Division IV-A of the Indian Constitution contains special provisions in addition to national guidelines for “environmental protection and improvement”. Article 51A, newly added in this section, establishes certain basic obligations of Indian citizens. Article 51 (A) (g) specifically addresses the basic environmental obligations.

Regulations: Article 51 (A) (g) is the responsibility of all Indian citizens to protect and improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living things. Article 51(A)(g) should point out that “protection and improvement of the natural environment” sets out the basic obligations applicable only to “citizens” of India. For this reason, it can be interpreted as not imposing obligations on “non-citizens”.

Ironically, this article does not mention the enforcement mechanism for compliance with basic obligations.

Article 51(A)(g) is also not comprehensive enough to cover all types of environmental pollution. Forests, lakes, rivers, etc. are specifically mentioned to emphasize air and water pollution. However, noise, light, radioactivity and hazardous waste have also caused environmental pollution in recent years.

In addition to the above provisions, the government established a committee to review the constitution through a revision process 10 years ago and proposed a new provision 30D that recognizes everyone’s right to enjoy safe drinking water.

Article 262: Judgment of Disputes Related to Weekly River or Valley Water

(1) Parliament may decide any dispute or complaint related to the use, distribution or control of water within a weekly river or valley or under water as required by law.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of this Constitution, Congress is not permitted by law to have the Supreme Court or other courts exercise jurisdiction over any dispute or complaint referred to in paragraph 1.

Initially, “the right to safe drinking water” was not the basic right of the Constitution. According to Article 262 of the Constitution, the right to water exists as a riverside of the Indian Constitution and was designed to resolve river disputes in various states (Mary, 2006).


Basic powers are primarily developed through judicial interpretation rather than legislative action. The Indian Supreme Court’s ruling claimed that this right, implied in Article 21, should be expressed. The right to life has been interpreted to include all aspects of life, and includes the right to a clean environment, which is also a basic need to sustain life.

According to Article 21 in the past 60 years, the right to life has increased significantly. This includes the right to health and the right to a clean environment. The right to safe drinking water may also be included. In accordance with Article 21, major attempts have been made to include food rights as a basic right. Under the protection of the right to life, can the right to food be expanded to the right to safe drinking water? If protection of rights includes active protection as well as passive protection against infringement of rights, people should not deprive them of the right to use water, and can advocate the expansion of water rights to include constitutions provided by the state in areas where water is not used. Guaranteed rights to life include the state’s obligation to actively provide safe drinking water. (Singh C. a., 1992) Also, looking back at the views of courts in the 1970s and 1980s, the government realized that stricter and more comprehensive laws were needed to protect ordinary people’s right to pure water. Currently, the right to contaminate water is restricted by the Water (Contamination Prevention and Control) Act of 1974 and the Environmental Protection Act of 1986. The extension of Article 21 is interpreted to mean the right to the environment, meaning that safe drinking water can also be used (Singh C., Legal Policy to Prevent Water Pollution, 1984). Safe drinking water is a top priority in all countries in “AP II. Professor of the Pollution Control Committee v. M.V. Nayudu” (Indian Supreme Court, 2001). Courts believed that India attended a meeting of the United Nations Office in Geneva, saying, “Safe drinking water rights are the foundation of life, and according to Article 21, the state is obliged to provide clean water to its people. drinking water. “Narmada Bachao Andolan v. Union of India” (2000) The Supreme Court supported the decision by the Indian government to build more than 3,000 dams on the Narmada River, but thought it was important to obtain safe drinking water rights. The Supreme Court repeatedly claimed that Article 21 of the Constitution provides a link between access to natural resources such as water, the right to a healthy environment, and the right to life. At the same time, recognition of the hidden water right and water right Consider a clean environment for (1991). The state is the custodian of all-natural resources, these natural resources are for public use and enjoyment, and the management committee has a legal responsibility to protect all resources. The Supreme Court of “The Valery Civil Welfare Forum on the Indian Alliance” (1997) clearly pointed out that the Constitution and legal provisions protect people’s rights to fresh air, clean water and pollution-free environments. The Court again recently cleared it that ‘the right to access to clean drinking water is fundamental to life and it is a duty of the state under Article 21 to provide clean drinking water to its citizens. Further in 1984 in the case of BandhuaMuktiMorcha vs. Union of India (1984) held that the entitlement of citizens to receive safe drinking water (potable water) is part of the right to life under Article 21. In the case of Subhas Kumar vs. State of Bihar (1991), the Supreme Court asserted that the right to live is fundamental rights given under Article 21 of Indian Constitution and it includes right to clean water and pollution free air for enjoyment of life. In important judgment of Voice of India vs. Union of India (2010), Supreme Court accepted the fact that after 60 years of independence Indian legislature not able to provide clean water to the Indian citizen and it needs to a special executive attention.

Therefore, it should be possible to analyse and view various important judgments that the judiciary made an important explanation, but it also requires the recognition of the administrator. According to a rights-based approach, no one denies that water is the primary right claimed by the judiciary in almost all decisions related to water issues.


The above explanation clearly shows that the “Indian Constitution” has not successfully recognized human rights for safe drinking water because there are no clear rules. Various legislation and regulations have been passed over the past half century, but there are still conceptual differences, but India has not explored clear rules as a legal measure. The judiciary bridged the gap by freely interpreting the provisions of the Indian Constitution. That is why there is not much controversy over the outline of basic rights as human rights in the context of India. A common consensus was reached when discussing water rights as a universal right. Courts repeatedly argued that water is a human right with the help of various provisions of the Indian Constitution, claiming that this right is part of the right to life, the right to life. In order to provide a broader perspective and remind the state to fulfil its constitutional obligations, the court brought the principle of freedom and the law of rights by declaring that the state is the trustee of all-natural resources and by giving some principles that the state must implement. came. Human needs and main needs, such as cleanliness, are water.

Author: Prakalp Shrivastava,
3rd year, School of law, jagran lakecity university, bhopal (M.P)

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