((1997) 2 SCC 353)

Provisions Involved

Article 21, 47, 48A & 51A (g)


This case is popularly known as the Taj Trapezium Case. The Taj Trapezium covers an area of about 10,400 sq. km., which is trapezium, shaped around the Taj Mahal covering five districts in the area near Agra. M.C. Mehta filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court when he observed that the marble of the monument has turned yellow because of the pollutants emitted from the nearby factories and industries. The petition was attached with the report of the Expert Committee, known as the Varadarajan Committee, which was published by the Government of India in 1978. The report mentioned the sources of pollution in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ). According to the petitioner, the chemical industries and the refinery at Mathura are the major source of pollution in Agra region. The Sulphur Dioxide emitted by the industries when combined with the Oxygen results in ‘Acid Rain’ which corrodes the white marble. Industrial emissions, vehicular transmissions and the generators are responsible for polluting the air around TTZ. Thus the petitioner sought few directions from the Supreme Court to the authorities to take effective actions against the concerned polluters.


  • The marble has visibly turned yellow because of the pollution caused by the nearby factories. At some places the yellow spots are magnified by the black and brown spots.
  • Taj Mahal is one of the wonders of the world but it is on its way to degradation due to atmospheric pollution.


The bench relied upon the principle of Sustainable Development, observing that there needs to be a balance between economic development and environmental protection. The court also indicated that industries, which are not accepting to use natural gas as a substitute for coal, will be relocated. The industries located in TTZ that used gas may not relocate. 

The court restated the “Polluter Pay Principle” and the “Precautionary Principle”, which was laid down in the Vellore Citizen Welfare Forum. The bench also stated Article 21 of the Constitution which guarantees right to life and personal liberty and also the DPSPs and Fundamental Duties as laid down by Article 47, 48A & 51A (g). The Court also relied upon numerous statutory acts such as The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.


The court ordered the industries falling in the TTZ to apply for the gas connections or relocate themselves. The court further ordered the brick kilns to stop the operation in TTZ. There was a direction for the construction of the Agra bypass to divert the traffic, which passed through the city.