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The Godavarman Case: The Indian Supreme Court's Breach of Constitutional Boundaries in Managing India's Forests

January 2007

Citation: 37 ELR 10032

Issue: 1

Author: Armin Rosencranz, Edward Boenig, and Brinda Dutta

Editors' Summary: With its ruling in the 1995 Godavarman case, the Supreme Court of India commandeered for itself the roles of policymaker, administrator, and interpreter of the law. The Court's actions pursuant to this ruling have had serious effects on India's forest policy. In this Article, Armin Rosencranz, Edward Boenig, and Brinda Dutta explore the ramifications of the Supreme Court's actions. The authors begin with an overview of changes in forest policy following the 1995 ruling and describe the deleterious effects that these changes have had on Indian forests. They then analyze the constitutionality of the Court's actions and evaluate whether these actions have had the effect that the Court desired. Finally, the authors conclude with some suggestions for resolving the problems created by the Court's overstepping of its judicial role.


Armin Rosencranz is Visiting Professor of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, and taught for many years at Stanford University. He is coauthor of the book Environmental Law and Policy in India (2001). He earned his A.B. from Princeton and his J.D. and Ph.D. from Stanford. Edward Boenig, a Stanford graduate, was research assistant to Professor Rosencranz. Brinda Dutta is admitted to practice before the Bombay High Court. She earned her B.A. LL.B. degree from the National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata, India.

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