“Every citizen has a fundamental right to fresh air”, says P&H HC while staying the Haryana government’s move to convert a park into a residential area

    On Tuesday, the Punjab and Haryana High Court highlighted that every citizen has a fundamental right to fresh air (Jan Kalyan Samiti v. State of Haryana and others).

    The statement came in response to a petition filed against the Govt of Haryana’s move to convert open spaces and parks within the Faridabad Industrial Township to residential areas. Finding the State’s deed to be of questionable legality, the Court held that the move was prima facie unconstitutional and contrary to law.

    The Court added that, “the respondents are bound to save and preserve the open spaces. Every citizen has a fundamental right to breathe free and fresh air. The ecology and environment of the area would be affected severely if the parks are converted into residential areas.”

    A Division Bench comprising of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu was hearing a petition moved by the Jan Kalyan Samiti.

    During the course of proceedings, it was revealed that the Government of Haryana proposed to convert these open spaces into residential areas.

    In their pleadings, the residential society had labelled the new plan proposed by the State as irrational, arbitrary, and violative of Articles 21 and 48 of the Indian Constitution.

    The Court agreed that the State took a U-Turn while advising to convert parks into residential areas and cited Supreme Court judgements in similar matters. In the case of Bangalore Medical Trust v. BS Muddappa & others, the Supreme Court had ruled that:

    “Reservation of open places for parks and playgrounds is collectively recognised as a legitimate exercise of statutory power reasonably associated with the protection of the residents of the locality from the ill effects of urbanisation.”

    In view of the above observation as well, the Punjab and Haryana High Court stayed the State’s proposal to convert parks into residential areas till further orders.

    The case is anticipated to be taken up next on November 19, 2020.