Climate litigation in India has been largely focused on public actors; however, the outcomes in those cases also inform cases against private actors. The National Green Tribunal Act, for instance, does not differentiate between public and private actors in terms of remedies.
Legal action against private actors may be taken where they have violated statutory provisions and infringed a citizen’s right to the environment. Although there is no particular statutory obligation requiring private actors to take actions in specific conformity with India’s NDC targets, it could be argued that major GHG emitters – e.g. thermal power plants – contribute to the ‘environmental consequence’ of climate change, thereby establishing the National Green Tribunal’s jurisdiction on climate claims.
A case where a private actor has been ordered to take mitigation or adaptation measures based on human rights grounds has not yet materialised. Of particular relevance for future litigation are claims against private actors on grounds of inadequate adaptation measures, comparable to the project-specific litigation against public actors.
Cases against private actors may challenge regulatory approval granted to them which does not adequately – or at all – consider climate impacts. Cases may also be filed if conditions laid out in the regulatory approvals – which may be relevant to climate change mitigation or adaptation – have not been complied with.
For more country specific context and relevant national climate change law see: https://climate-laws.org/geographies/india
This country report has been produced by Catherine Hall, C2LI Senior Research Assistant; Lennart Wegener, C2LI Legal Analyst with the collaboration of Shibani Ghosh, C2LI National Rapporteur for India and Summet Lall, Clyde&Co. The summary is based on Shibani Gosh, “Climate Litigation in India” in F. Sindico and M. Moise Mbengue, Comparative Climate Change Litigation: Beyond the Usual Suspects, Springer, 2021.