Data source
Date of text
09 Jun 1997
Seat of court
Original language


Type of text
National - higher court
Reference number
WP 2991/1995
Court name
Supreme Court of Nepal
cultural heritage, standing to sue

This case dealt with the protection of the Katmandu Valley, which was important from a historical, religious, cultural and environmental point of view. The petitioner sought orders by the court to give effect to the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage 1972 that Nepal had ratified.
The court analyzed the question of the petitioner’s standing to file the case in the court. Previously, in various cases the court had ruled that any individual had locus standii to bring suit in the Supreme Court concerning matters of public importance. The area in question was public property was of historical and cultural importance. The words “public right” under Article 88(2) of the Constitution signified the collective right of the general public under the constitution and law. It could not be said that a public-spirited individual had no right to be concerned about such public property. Therefore the court decided that the petitioner had locus standi.
It emphasized that there was a legal obligation upon the respondent authorities to declare particular places as protected areas, to protect rivers, streams, ponds and wells and to protect the temples and statues of god and goddesses that existed in the area in question. It was an established fact that the environment of Katmandu Valley was getting polluted due to rapid urbanization, over population, lack of tree planting, operation of factories and industries, pressure of diesel and petrol run vehicles, unplanned settlements and construction of large buildings. In regard to the environment, Article 26(4) of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal stated that the state shall give priority to the protection of the environment and also to the prevention of the further damage due to physical development activities by increasing awareness of the general public about environmental cleanliness. Therefore, it was expedient to take effective steps towards environmental protection on a priority basis by making serious considerations and contemplations.
However, as for the petitioner’s contention that the existence of a particular building in the Valley caused negative environmental consequences the court was of the view that there was no reason to assume that the building in question caused more environmental degradation than vehicles and people on the roads.
Finally, the court stressed that religious, cultural and historical recognition and environmental protection were matters of national and international importance. Therefore, taking into account the necessity of concrete and effective measures, a directive order was issued to His Majesty’s Government Cabinet Secretariat to monitor whether the concerned authorities were complying with commitments expressed in the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, 1972, as well as Nepalese laws, and then to take actions for maintaining uniformity in protecting all areas by formulating national policies regarding objects of religious, cultural and historical importance.