The Indian Penal Code has a chapter on offences affecting Public Health, Safety, Convenience (Chapter XIV). Sec. 268 provides that “a person is guilty of a public nuisance who does any act or is guilty of an illegal omission which causes any common injury, danger or annoyance to the public or to the people in general who dwell or occupy property in the vicinity, or which must necessarily cause injury, obstruction, danger, or annoyance to persons who may have occasion to use any public right.”
The section further explains that a common nuisance is not excusable on the ground that it causes some convenience or advantage.
Other concerned provisions are: a “negligent act likely to spread infection or disease dangerous to life” (Sec. 269 IPC.), a “malignant act likely to spread infection or disease dangerous to life” (Sec. 270 IPC.), “making atmosphere noxious to health” (Sec. 278 IPC.).
But the essential requirement of the provision to punish a man is the guilty intention of the accused, i.e. either the act of the accused should be negligent, malignant or voluntary, which vitiates the atmosphere.
In case of public nuisance, the Penal Code provides for fines up to Rs. 200/- by way of punishment (Sec. 290 IPC.) and for making the atmosphere noxious to health Rs. 500/- only (Sec.78 IPC.).
The punishments are too meagre to meet the objectives. With these penal provisions, it is not possible to check environmental pollution.