U’hand govt approaches SC challenging human status of Ganga, Yamuna


  • In March, 2017 a division bench of Uttarakhand High Court has declared that rivers Ganga and Yamuna, all their tributaries, streams, every natural water flowing with flow continuously or intermittently of these rivers, as juristic/legal persons/living entities having status of a legal person with all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person.
  • A move that could help in efforts to clean the pollution-choked rivers.

In News

  • Uttarakhand government has moved the Supreme Court challenging an Uttarakhand High Court order granting rivers Ganga, Yamuna and their tributaries the status of living human entities.
  • Seeking a stay on the March 20 order of the high court through a Special Leave Petition filed recently, the state government has urged the apex court to consider “substantial questions of law” arising from the verdict.


  • The Petition states that whether in case of human casualties in a flood, the affected people can file suit for damages against the chief secretary of the state and whether state government would be liable to bear such financial burden.
  • The petition contends that the order was passed by the high court in spite of the fact that these rivers and their tributaries pass through different states through the jurisdiction of different governments.
  • The petition also questions whether the high court had not exceeded its writ jurisdiction in passing the order as granting the status of living entities to the rivers was neither pleaded nor prayed in the writ petition.
  • It argued that the issue before the high court was only with regard to removal of encroachments from the Shakti Canal on the Yamuna in Dehradun district.

Ground of the petition

The provisions under item no. 56 of the union list of the 7th Schedule (Article 246) of the Constitution, the petition also says it is the sole constituent right of the Union government to frame out rules for efficacious management of all the inter-state rivers  and hence whether or not it will be within the powers of the state of Uttarakhand to declare the river Ganga and Yamuna as legal persons or living entities.

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