Ganga and Yamuna are ‘living identities with legal rights,’ What does this order from Uttarakhand High Court means?

Uttarakhand High Court passed an order which is first of its kind where it declared river Ganga and Yamuna as the living identities. Uttarakhand High Court said River Ganga and Yamuna, its tributaries and all its sister bodies as “living and legal identities” having the status of the legal person with similar duties, rights and liabilities. According to the Uttarakhand High Court, this order was to “prevention and conservation of these two water bodies and also to protect the recognition and faith of the people.”

river ganga and yamuna

A panel of Judges which included Rajiv Sharma and Alok Singh said that the decision was taken on the account that “theses two rivers are losing their existence since a very long time.” This order passed by the Uttarakhand High Court means that any harm caused to these two rivers by any human being will be equivalent to the damage caused to any other person for which the culprit will face legal actions. Senior lawyer K H Gupta said, ” By this order, the court has justified the ‘fifth generation rights’ which not only protects rights of human beings but also of extending its rights to the habitats as well.

Uttarakhand High Court has appointed Director of Namami Gange, the Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand and Advocate General of the state “persons in loco parents” which means the human face representing rivers. These Officials will be responsible for the well-being of these two rivers and will promote the health and welfare of these rivers.

The Judges told that all the Hindus hold a great belief in these streams and connect both spiritually and physically with these rivers. So it is the responsibility of humans that they maintain the cleanliness and spirituality of these two rivers. The panel of Judges also complained that after a long period of wait, both Uttarakhand and UP Government has failed to cooperate¬†with Central Government’s Ganga Management Board. The order of the Uttarakhand High Court came days after New Zealand became the first Country to give legal identity to Whanganui River.

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