Class VIII - Civics

Chapter 10 - Law and Social Justice

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    • One reason why foreign companies come to India is for cheap labour. Wages that the companies pay to workers, say in U.S.A., are far higher than what they must pay to workers in poorer countries like India.
    • Companies can save costs and earn higher profits.
    • Between 1980 and 1984, the work crew for the MIC plant was cut in half from 12 to 6 workers. The period of safety training for workers was brought down from 6 months to 15 days.
    • As the law-makers and enforcers, the government is supposed to ensure that safety laws are implemented. It is also the duty of the government to ensure that the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution is not violated.
    • The safety laws were lax in India and even these wean safety laws were not enforced.
    • In 1978, some municipal officials in Bhopal objected that the installation of an MIC production unit was a safety violation, the position of the government was that the state needs the continued investment of the Bhopal plant, which provides jobs.
    • As we know, this is contrary to what the role of a law making, and enforcement agency should be. Instead of protecting the interests of the people their safety was being disregarded both by the government and by private companies.
    • With more industries being set up both by local and foreign business in India, there is a great need for stronger laws protecting workers, rights and better enforcement of these laws.
    • In 1984, there were very few laws protecting the environment in India, and the there was hardly any enforcement of these laws.
    • The environment was treated as a ‘free’ entity and any industry could pollute the air and water without any restrictions.
    • Whether it was our rivers, air, groundwater – the environment was being polluted and the health of people disregarded.
    • The Bhopal disaster brought the issue of environment to the forefront. Several thousands of persons who were not associated with the factory in any way were generally affected because of the poisonous gases leaked from the plant.
    • In response to the pressure from environmental activists and others, in the years following the Bhopal gas tragedy, the Indian government introduced new laws on the environment.
    • The courts also gave several judgements upholding the right to a healthy environment as intrinsic to the Fundamental Right to life.
    • In Subhash Kumar vs. State of Bihar (1991), the supreme court held that the Right of life is a Fundamental Right under Article 21 of the Constitution and it includes the right to the enjoyment of pollution-free water and air for full enjoyment of life.
    • The government is responsible for setting up laws and procedures that can check pollution, clean rivers and introduce heavy fines for those who pollute.
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