EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: JUSTICE JAWAD RAHIM, JUDICIAL MEMBER, NGT

By | November 7, 2017
Dr. Justice Jawad Rahim with Legal Bites

Dr. Justice Jawad Rahim is a judicial member of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). He was appointed by the NGT as a judicial member with effect from February 8, 2016. At the NGT, his contribution has been significant to create an efficient environment justice delivery system. Dr. Justice Jawad Rahim has passed judgments in cases like Nargesh Zargar V. State of Madhya Pradesh and Ors. (Regarding illegal and unauthorized mining), Tanaji Gambhire V. Union of India and Ors. (Western Zone). These judgments are considered landmark towards establishing a better environment in the country.

Legal Bites feels immensely proud and joyous in having interviewed Dr. Justice Jawad Rahim. Here are some moments from the interview:

Legal Bites: Sir, what is Constitutionalism and how can we attain the goals set up by our Constitution?

Dr. Justice Jawad Rahim: Constitutionalism is insegregable from debaters. See as you know, after the country was declared independent, we proclaimed ourselves to be a Republic. Now, what did it mean to us? It was a transition from the concept of a Ruler and the Ruled – to the status of a Citizen. Therefore, citizenship is a valuable right which was not there during the time of regimes. The concept of a Ruler and the Ruled diminished the right of a human being. That was recognized through a setup called Democracy and when the democracy is honored – we naturally go to the root of it. Who has guaranteed it?  It is the Constitution who has guaranteed us the right.

So collectively, it is a democratic setup, however, individually it is a very valuable right in the end. As far as constitutionality is concerned, constituent, it is a combination of all constituents which makes it a strong administrative setup. The Constitution to us is a compendium of all do’s and don’ts with prescribed articles where you have limitations, rights that are guaranteed, and the duties which are enforced. It is the collective responsibility of the state to enforce it and the individual responsibility of a citizen to perform its duty. In short, this is how you should look at it.

Legal Bites: Sir, you’ve passed judgments on many significant cases including one regarding Illegal and Unauthorized Mining and the Western Zone. How has Urbanization played a role in environmental degradation and other related issues?

Dr. Justice Jawad Rahim:  Without exception, you can say, that the very word – Urbanization – means you’re going in at an advanced way of looking at life and living conditions. When you develop a living condition which is far more advanced than it permits you, then you indulge in what is called – the destruction of the Palestine. And naturally what happens is that the natural habitation, flora, and fauna, is being disturbed.

Mining is one such activity where the source of natural resources is the Mother Earth and to make Iron, for example, you dig for Iron Ore and similarly for Silica and Aluminum too. So, all the components which are used for building up an infrastructure are removed from the natural resources which in turn affect the rural areas and thus, give rise to Urbanization.

It certainly has impacted the natural environment in more than one ways. If a mine is 20 kilometers apart from the organization you require a road. For making a road you cut down trees. Once you cut down trees you destroy the particular ecology in that area. Then you pollute your atmosphere with your vehicles and machines. Then you develop – what you call greenhouse gases which primarily consist of Carbon Dioxide. So this is how it impacts the natural habitats.

Legal Bites: Sir, there are many arguments for and against the favor of the Collegium System where the transparency in the appointment of judges is being challenged. Please share your views on the issue.


“If he’s a gentleman to the Court – it’s the first qualification; if he knows little about Law – it’s better.”


Dr. Justice Jawad Rahim: The Collegium System is one where you examine or rather you assess the quality of a person and his capabilities – not on the basis of his knowledge of the law. There is a saying in English that to appoint a person as a judge – “If he’s a gentleman to the Court – it’s the first qualification; if he knows little about Law – it’s better.” You see, a subject law can be learned at any time in your life. However, quality, integrity, honesty, is an essential factor here.

So, the Collegium System was very workable, for example, we used to know the work that a person does, practicing at the bar – we used to know his performance and qualities as a human being. And then they used to select him. Of course the performance and level of professionalism are very important, but we are all just human beings, you see. So there is always a tendency for likes and dislikes.

Dr. Justice Jawad Rahim with Keshav Basotia and Mayank Shekhar

Dr. Justice Jawad Rahim with Keshav Basotia and Mayank Shekhar

I admit that this process of selection portrays a lesser amount of transparency in the Collegium System than in the other means of selection of judges. But, on the other hand, what other means of selection can be set up to replace this? Giving written tests to High Court judges would be ridiculing. So, that’s not fair.

So that is how the Collegium System works and it is good, but, it is better to have a view of a representative phenomenon. For example, in my opinion, in the Collegium System, it is better to have a representative from the Bar Council of India – so that there is a different perspective to make things more transparent.

Legal Bites: Sir, what is your personal take on the increasing levels of pollution in Delhi. How do you think has the ban on the sale of firecrackers helped in decreasing the pollution in the city?

Dr. Justice Jawad Rahim: These are all factual aspects. See, for example, burning of a mosquito coil in your room causes suffocation to you, right? It is something like that. The burning of firecrackers affects a particular area. Unfortunately, the season when the firecracker burning takes place always happens during winters. The natural phenomena of humidity push the smoke up, therefore, Chennai or Kolkata doesn’t face this problem. Delhi suffers because – being in the northern part of India – levels of humidity are not as high in the winters here. Fog and mist push the rising levels of smoke back towards the earth hence, causing an amalgamation of thick smog over the State.

And let me state this – burning of firecrackers is not the only cause of pollution around Delhi NCR. It is also the burning of crops, ignition from vehicular factories and many other factors which are equally affecting the environment. How long can you stop it for? Banning of crackers for a month doesn’t mean that the pollution in Delhi is on the decrease, right? It is one of the factors which accelerate the levels of pollution, but it cannot be the only factor.

Legal Bites: Sir, lastly, what suggestions and golden words of advice would you give to the budding lawyers of this generation?

Dr. Justice Jawad Rahim: 

I will only tell them and in fact, request them to take legal studies to be a professional lawyer and not to make this profession as an avocation.

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