ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Task Ahead

Environmental Law in India

Handbook of Environmental Law by P B Sahasranaman, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2012; pp xiii + 352, Rs 950.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a “handbook” as a small book that gives useful information about a particular subject. Wikipedia indicates that the name “handbook” may sometimes be applied to reference works that are not pocket-sized, but which do provide ready reference. The Handbook of Environmental Law, with its page count of 333, is certainly not pocket-sized or small, but it does a good job of being a reference text even if falling a bit short of being a “ready” reference. The book in general has good content, but its readability suffers slightly on account of inclusion of some irrelevant content and problems with presentation and structuring.

Aiming to provide a broad overview of the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of Indian environmental law and brief comparative analyses with the laws of several other countries, the book eschews the oft-used approach in legal textbooks of a section-by-section commentary on the relevant statutes. This approach is undoubtedly wise, since Indian environmental law is particularly unsuited to section-wise analysis, both on account of the large number of statutes which cover the field, as well as the fact that many of the principles of environmental law derive from a variety of non-statutory sources such as the Indian Constitution, international treaties and conventions, and “soft law” such as resolutions or declarations by international organisations.

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