The Uttarakhand high court has recognized the Ganga and the Yamuna as so-called living entities, giving the rivers that have seen years of damage at the hands of humans, a legal voice. Animals, for instance, aren’t considered living entities by law. Only humans are.
“This order may be seen as a precedent and come across as strange but it is not any different from the status of being a legal entity as in the case of family trusts or a company,” said Raj Panjwani, a practicing lawyer at the National Green Tribunal (NGT). Still, it is the first time a court has recognized a non-human as a living entity in India.
The recognition came while the court was hearing a 2014 public interest litigation (PIL).