In Court

E-mail as PIL Treating an e-mail as a public interest petition, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court recently issued notices to the state government. The case resulted after the court's chief justice, B A Khan, received an e-mail from Arun Shirgaonkar, an Indian official serving with Qatar embassy, in December 2006, in connection with the killing of a bear in Kashmir's Tral area. In his mail, Shirgaonkar had noted that he and his wife were deeply affected by the footage of the gory burning and killing of the bear that was telecast on television and sought the court's intervention. The matter is now scheduled for hearing on March 12, 2007.

Sticky mud

Walhi, an Indonesian environmental watchdog, sued the country's president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on February 12, 2007, in a mud volcano case in Java that displaced more than 10,000 people. The lawsuit, filed in a Jakarta court, blamed the company P T Lapindo Brantas and its partner Yudhoyono. Walhi wants the president to order the company to bear all costs for stopping the mudflow, compensating victims and restoring the environment. It also asked for a team to investigate the mud flow. The mud has been flowing since May 2006.
France spill The trial in one of France's worst environmental disasters, the 1999 Erika oil spill, has begun. On December 12, 1999, the oil tanker Erika split into two and sank, spilling 22,000 tonnes of oil into the Atlantic. The oil covered 400 km of the coastline, killing thousands of birds and blackening beaches. Oil giant Total is one of 15 parties charged. If Total is found guilty, the case could set a precedent in France, where companies don't have to pay for environmental damages. The state has sought US $199 million in damages from Total. Three French regions hit by the spill are claiming another US $520 million.