A lawyer by profession and a committed environmentalist by choice, he has made the fight to protect India’s environment his unending mission. He has pioneered legal activism for environmental protection and is proof that one man can make a difference.
Born on October 12, 1946 M C Mehta (Mahesh Chander Mehta) belongs to a small village in district Rajouri in the State of Jammu & Kashmir (India). It was here that his love for nature, instilled in him a sense of commitment towards protecting the environment. He got his education up to primary level in his village Dhangri. Later, to get higher education he had to join School at Rajouri. For few years he travelled from his village to School and back by crossing two rivers and about 15 km. of distance everyday. After his schooling at Rajouri he moved to Jammu and completed his Post Graduation in Political Science and Law degree from Jammu University and started his practice in Jammu & Kashmir High Court. During his stay in Jammu he took active part in social and political issues. He raised his voice against corruption and motivated students and youth to fight against discrimination taking place with the Jammu region. He remained President of The Youth Action Committee and pioneered the Social and Political causes. His career as a Supreme Court lawyer began in 1983, when he migrated to Delhi. In 1984, he began focusing on environmental litigation.
In the words of Ms Smita Gate “Often described as the One Man Enviro-legal Brigade, Mr Mehta is probably the only Supreme Court lawyer to have taken up legal cudgels with the polluting Indian Industries and come out victorious. A dedicated, fearless and extremely honest man, he pursues his goals with single-minded devotion. He has been conferred with several prestigious awards. Some of these are the Governor’s Gold Medal, the Goldman Environmental Prize, considered on alternative Noble Prize in USA and Europe, the UN’s Global 500 Award for 1993 and above all the Magsaysay Award for 1997.”