India

India’s National Green Tribunal was created in 2010 to hear civil cases that involve a substantial environmental question. The Tribunal has appellate jurisdiction over cases as well, and appeals of its decisions go directly to India’s Supreme Court. The Tribunal is composed of justices as well as experts with technical and practical expertise in environmental matters. The Tribunal’s standing requirements allow very open access to the court. Persons may bring claims in the public interest even if they have no direct, personal connection to the matter. In addition, a person may bring a claim on behalf of a group of people, such as all of those living in a village or all fisher folk reliant on a certain fishery. The Tribunal has also taken on cases on its own accord, which is called suo motu or sui generis, meaning “of its own motion” and “of its own kind.” One such case concerned the failure of the local government to provide safe public drinking water in Chennai, India. Upon hearing of situations that involved potential environmental harms, the Tribunal called parties before it to explain the situation.