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Courts as regulators: public interest litigation in India

Francis Rathinam () and A. V. Raja

Environment and Development Economics, 2011, vol. 16, issue 2, 199-219

Abstract: Environmental regulation in the developing countries is undermined by weak enforcement. Lack of information and public awareness are fundamental factors that render informal regulation by civil society ineffective. In India, a number of environmental problems have been addressed using the institution of public interest litigation (PIL) by ‘public-spirited’ citizens. This paper examines the economic advantage of PIL over other conventional legal forms. An important outcome of judicial interventions of this kind in environmental cases in India is a spillover effect, which generates public information via media coverage. Using a case study, we test whether the judicial directives that followed a PIL filed and the subsequent spillover effect of media publicity were effective in getting the state to enforce the standards. This is done using autoregressive distributed lag models and univariate structural break analysis. The results show that judicial intervention and public information were effective in controlling pollution.

Date: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cup:endeec:v:16:y:2011:i:02:p:199-219_00