Volume 3

Judicial Cartography in Public Interest Litigation in India: Re-reading the Kudankulam Case

Nupur Chowdhury
Assistant Professor, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi 110067

Published 2023-09-02


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How to Cite

Chowdhury , N. (2023). Judicial Cartography in Public Interest Litigation in India: Re-reading the Kudankulam Case. DIALOGUE: Science, Scientists and Society, 3, 1–24. Retrieved from https://dialogue.ias.ac.in/index.php/dialogue/article/view/40


India has witnessed strong and sustained civil society resistance movements against nuclear power plants in the recent past. The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant was both a site of such a movement and was also one of the few where the legal challenge was also launched. How should we understand this legal challenge and the judgments of the Madras High Court and then the Supreme Court? This question is explored through the theoretical lens of judicial cartography. Judicial cartography allows us to appreciate the critical role of the Court in deploying its formidable discretion in public interest cases, to legitimate State action and delegitimize citizen demands the development and deployment of nuclear technology. Judicial cartography draws attention to the choices exercised by the Court in the selection of material facts, identification of legal issues, consideration of epistemic resources and in the determination of equitable outcomes. Such judicial choices reduce the space for public deliberation and citizen’s engagement in policy and deeply undermine democracy.


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