International Conference on Environmental Laws and Constitutional Rights at Chandigarh University

 Government took all necessary steps to maintain law and order in Manipur, says Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal at Chandigarh University

Kashmiri youth have shunned stone-pelting and are now on the path of development, says Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal at Chandigarh University

Over 1 crore suggestions received on UCC; report is being prepared, says union law minister

Chandigarh University first university in India to start social work internship on Environment Protection and Climate Change says varsity chancellor Satnam Singh Sandhu

Supreme Court protected the heritage status of Chandigarh’s first 30 sectors, says Justice BR Gavai

MOHALI: Chandigarh University (CU) on Saturday (July 29) organized an international conference on environmental laws and constitutional rights, which was attended by Union Minister of Law and Justice, Arjun Ram Meghwal as the chief guest.

This was the third edition of the international conference held at CU and this year’s theme was ‘Environmental Laws and Constitutional Rights:  A Global Perspective.’ It was attended by Supreme Court Judges from four countries, high court judges from six countries, over 100 advocates, 50 members of different bar councils, 100 members of various Pollution Control Boards, and around 400 students and faculty of different law schools.

The dignitaries who attended the event included Honorable Justice BR Gavai, Judge supreme court of India; Honorable Justice Rajesh Bindal, Judge Supreme Court of India; Honorable Shri R Venkataramani, Attorney General of India; Honorable Justice V Kameshwar Rao, Judge Delhi High Court; Honorable Justice Ritu Bahri, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court; Hon’ble Justice MS Ramachandra Rao, Chief Justice Himachal Pradesh High Court and Honorable Justice (Retd) Swatanter Kumar, former Judge of the Supreme Court of India and Former Chairperson National Green Tribunal.

Satnam Singh Sandhu, chancellor of Chandigarh University, and Prof Himani Sood who is the Senior Vice President of the University were also present at the event.

Also, Justice Antonio Benjamin, who is the senior-most judge in the High Court of Brazil; Michael Wilson who is the former Judge of the Supreme Court of Hawaii; Christina Voigt who is a renowned expert in international environmental law and a professor at the University of Oslo and IUCN Chair and Honorable Justice Ananda Mohan, Judge Supreme Court of Nepal, joined the conference through online mode.

While talking to media persons on the sidelines of the international conference at Chandigarh University, Union law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal about the Manipur incident said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had already condemned the incident and expressed anguish over it. “While speaking ahead of the Monsoon Session of Parliament, PM Modi clearly said that it was a shameful incident and assured that the guilty will not be spared. We want to hold a discussion on the Manipur issue in the Parliament so that the whole country gets to know what is the truth and what actions we have taken but it seems that the Opposition does not want it,” he said.

The union minister said, “This is a sensitive issue and we have taken every kind of action to restore normalcy in the state. Home Minister Amit Shah visited Manipur and was there for three days. Our MoS Home Nityanand Rai was there in Manipur for 22 days,” said the union minister, adding that Home Minister is ready to discuss this issue in the Parliament but the Opposition is not ready and they are instead playing politics on such a sensitive issue.

About the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), the union minister said, “The law commission of India is in the process of collecting suggestions on the matter, and to my knowledge, more than 1 crore suggestions, from across the country, have been received based on which a report will be prepared soon.”

Arjun Ram Meghwal, said, “The Modi-led government believes in the holistic development of the country and PM Modi’s vision of a developed India can be achieved through development in every sphere which is why during the last nine years, the Modi government has focused on women empowerment, environment protection, boosting business and commerce, industry, education sector, farming and law and order.  We have brought reforms in all sectors.

The union minister said, “The previous government in their tenure of 10 years did not scrap any obsolete law but we have scrapped 1486 such laws and the government is planning to scrap another 76 this year because these laws are redundant and do not have any practical use now.”

“The abolition of triple talaq was one of the bold steps taken by PM Modi. “It was a long pending demand and previous governments were hesitant in taking such reformative steps. The abolition of triple talaq was welcomed by Muslims and many other Muslim countries have followed suit,” he said.

Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal further stated that the scrapping of Article 370 has opened new doorways of development in Jammu and Kashmir and PM Modi paid tribute to Dr BR Ambedkar by scrapping Article 370. “For seven decades the youth of Kashmir had stones in their hands but now they have laptops in their hands and are leading the path of development. We have seen that students of J&K have given exemplary performance in UPSC which shows that they are also eager to participate in the nation’s development.

During his address at the inaugural ceremony of the international conference Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal expressed his gratitude to Satnam Singh Sandhu, the Chancellor of Chandigarh University, for hosting this kind of event. He advocated the need for a shared strategy to tackle climate change and said that it is imperative for all of us to safeguard the environment and protect our planet from climate change and there are plenty of things individuals can do to mitigate it.

In his address, he drew a parallel between the composition of the human body and the Earth, both formed by the amalgamation of five essential elements. Stressing the significance of conserving the planet, he underscored the need for humanity to take responsible measures to safeguard it, just as we take care of our own bodies.

The minister highlighted specific steps that individuals can take to contribute to environmental preservation. Commending Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dedication to environmental conservation, Meghwal acknowledged that the call for environmental protection is not limited to India but extends to international cooperation and engagement. He appreciated the global efforts led by the Prime Minister to address pressing environmental concerns on the international stage.

Meanwhile, CU Chancellor, Satnam Singh Sandhu while addressing the international conference said Chandigarh University is the first university in India to start social work internship on Environment Protection and Climate Change along with teaching it as a subject that will help the students to understand the issue deeply and work practically in society for the cause of Environment protection.

Satnam Singh Sandhu, said, “The conference is taking place at a time of India’s G-20 Presidency. “The theme of India’s G-20 Presidency also reflects the concern about the global environment crisis and gives a call for global teamwork on this issue. However, the issue of the environment cannot be resolved until it becomes a mass movement until the public does not join in the initiative.”

“Universities and educational institutions play a vital role in educating the youth and promoting awareness about environmental issues among them along with inspiring action towards sustainable development. Understanding its responsibility, Chandigarh University has been organizing the International Law Conference for three years, which brings people of all walks on a single platform to understand various issues of mitigating climate change and find solutions for protecting the environment.,” he said.

The judiciary has always played a pivotal role in the protection of the environment and has passed landmark judgments. Justice BR Gavai also emphasized the role played by the Judiciary in preserving the environment. He said, “It gives me immense pleasure to state that I was part of the bench which saved the Sukhna Lake at Chandigarh and I had also the privilege of hearing the matter concerning the heritage status of Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh wherein the rampant departmentalization in Phase-1 not only deviated from the original city planning but also caused a strain on the available resources while passing the directions that the efforts should be made to preserve the heritage status of the city.”

Justice BR Gavai headed the Supreme Bench that in January this year prohibited the "fragmentation" or "apartmentalisation" of residential units in Phase-I of Chandigarh (first 30 sectors), citing the heritage status of Le Corbusier zone.

Justice BR Gavai also highlighted the pressing and paramount issue faced in the 21st century – environmental protection. “With the looming threat of global warming and increasing concerns about biodiversity loss, the need to address these challenges has never been more critical,” he said.

In his address, he discussed potential remedies to combat these environmental issues that affect every individual, regardless of age or economic status. Justice Gavai underscored that pollution is a global problem, and its impact knows no boundaries.

While acknowledging humanity's desire for progress and development, Justice Gavai pointed out that such progress often comes at the expense of our natural surroundings. He emphasized the need to recognize the environmental consequences of our actions and decisions, urging society not to overlook these impacts. In doing so, he stressed the importance of incorporating environmental protection principles in the Indian Constitution and international agreements, ensuring that fundamental human rights continue to be safeguarded.

Attorney General of India, R Venkataramani, said, “Climate change is a critical issue and the world is already witnessing its impacts on planet Earth. For decades, meeting human needs through the development of nations has been the focus, but little was realized that the true development goal of humankind is not the ‘wealth of nations’, but the health of nations. Looking at the global scenario, it is important that we engage ourselves on understanding what are the best Social, legal, and other instruments and tools which can be applied to carry forward the very daunting challenge of defining sustainable development.”  

Mr. Venkatramani further said that more judicial engagement in policymaking means that we are nearing the goals of sustainable development. He said, “Considering this major civil challenge, numerous constitutions across the world have incorporated environmental principles, values, and doctrines to tackle the environmental issues and achieve sustainable development. Even the Supreme Court of India and the High Courts today are more engaged in policymaking on environmental law obligations to contribute in fighting this global issue.”