Rivers in India granted “legal person” status

Rivers in India granted “legal person” status

Rivers in India granted “legal person” status

Written by Staff Writer

21 Mar, 2017 | 6:43 pm

Two of the holiest rivers in India are each to be accorded the same legal status as human beings. A court ruled that the Ganges and Yamuna had a right to protection and that they could be parties to legal disputes.

The High Court in the northern state of Uttarakhand ruled that the Ganges and the Yamuna rivers be accorded the status of living human entities, meaning that if anyone harms or pollutes either river, the law would view it as no different from harming a person.

In making their ruling on Tuesday, judges Sharma and Singh said the unusual step was necessary because the sacred rivers were in danger of “losing their very existence.”

The judges cited the example of New Zealand’s Whanganui River, revered by the indigenous Maori people. The Whanganui was declared a living entity with full legal rights by New Zealand’s government last week.

The Ganges is the longest river in India and is revered as particularly holy, with many believing it has healing properties. It is used by many Indians for the scattering of ashes and for ritual bathing. However, the waterway is often also heavily polluted with untreated sewage and industrial waste

 

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