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Impact Analysis Of Judicial Directives On Water Pollution In India And The EU: Law And Policy Dimensions

Principal Supervisor: Professor Philippe Cullet (SOAS)

Co- Supervisor: Professor Deborah Mabbett (Birkbeck)

The increasing activity of the judiciary in the field of the environment in various parts of the world has often been celebrated by commentators as being a hallmark of the positive changes that the courts can bring where the executive and legislature fail to take the initiative. The focus on the judiciary’s contribution has too often not been accompanied by a critical analysis of the ways in which judicial pronouncements are implemented, both in the specific case concerned and in application to other similar cases.

The interactions between courts and other branches of government in the EU are the subject of critical academic analyses, often drawing in their turn on comparisons with the US. These analyses have not been applied to India, where it tends to be assumed that the courts make a very positive contribution, through the development of an environmental jurisprudence, to the governance of water resources. There is thus a wide gap that needs to be filled with in-depth research.

In the Indian context, the judiciary has played a central role in the recognition of the human rights to water and sanitation. It has also recognised the importance of a clean or pollution free environment and borrowed and incorporated legal rules and principles. These legal rules and/or principles have been taken up in legislative and policy documents, but their conceptual basis is sometimes inconsistent, and the transfer to policy is not always effective. The effectiveness of remedies and compliance by the parties to disputes has also not received adequate attention.

This research aims to fill this knowledge gap first, by examining the conceptual basis of the legal rules and/or principles invoked by the judiciary in cases on water pollution, and second, by conducting an impact analysis of selected judicial decisions on water pollution in India. To inform this analysis, the research will adopt a comparative approach and examine the manner in which the impact of judicial decisions is understood and studied in the European Union in order to draw lessons for the Indian context. The proposed methodology will comprise a combination of traditional doctrinal research and empirical analysis of the factors influencing the scope and limits of the impact of judicial decisions on water pollution in India. 

Candidate requirements:

The candidate should demonstrate a solid background in environmental law and in water law research in India, and should be familiar with the social, political and economic scenario in India. S/He should be fluent in Hindi. Knowledge of European environmental law would be an added advantage.

Key References:

• Clifford J. Carrubba, Matthew Gabel & Charles Hankla, “Judicial Behavior under Political Constraints: Evidence from the European Court of Justice”, 102(4) American Political Science Review 435 (2008).

• Geetanjoy Sahu, “Implementation of Environmental Judgments in Context: A Comparative Analysis of Dahanu Thermal Power Plant Pollution Case in Maharashtra and Vellore Leather Industrial Pollution Case in Tamil Nadu”, 6(3) Law, Environment and Development Journal 335 (2010).

• Stephen L. Wasby, The Impact of the United States Supreme Court: Some Perspectives (Homewood, Illinois: Dorsey Press, 1970).

• Upendra Baxi, “Who Bothers About the Supreme Court? The Problem of Impact of Judicial Decisions”, 24(4) Journal of the Indian Law Institute 848 (1982).

• Lisa Conant, Justice Contained: Law and Politics in the European Union, Ithaca: Cornell University Press (2002).

Further details about the project may be obtained from:

Principal Supervisor: Professor Philippe Cullet,

Co- Supervisor: Professor Deborah Mabbett,

Further information about PhDs at SOAS is available from:


How to apply:

Applicants should follow two steps:

STEP 1: Applicants should apply for this scholarship via the on-line scholarship application form:

STEP 2: In addition to the online scholarship application , applicants must ALSO submit a COMPLETE on-line application for admission:

as soon as possible but no later than 3 March 2014. Please ensure you indicate in the statement of your on-line application for admission that you wish to be considered for the Bloomsbury College Studentship.

A complete application for admission includes transcripts, an explanation of the grading system for any degrees obtained outside of the UK, two references, CV, research proposal and a personal statement. The panel will be considering your scholarship application TOGETHER with your online application for admission.

For any queries regarding the studentship application procedure, please email  

Closing date for applications is 17:00 (UK local time), Monday 3 March 2014