Supreme Court Stays cutting of trees by Maharashtra Government in Aarey Forest

Team SoOLEGAL 7 Oct 2019 2:48pm

Supreme Court Stays cutting of trees by Maharashtra Government in Aarey Forest

A division-bench of the Supreme Court on Monday has ordered to maintain status quo till the next hearing on the cutting of trees in the Aarey forest area in Mumbai.

A special vacation bench comprising of Justices Arun Mishra and Ashok Bhushan was specifically constituted to hear the matter on Monday after the Supreme Court took suo-moto cognizance of the matter. A group of law students had written a letter to the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to immediately intervene in the matter to stop the cutting of hundreds of trees in the area.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta represented the Maharashtra Government and informed the court that “all the trees that were required to be cut have been cut and they are not going to cut any further trees till the next date of hearing.” Mehta further submitted before the court that all the activists/protesters who were detained by the police have been released.

The court, thereafter, directed that in case anybody has not been released so far, he/she shall be released immediately on furnishing personal bond.

Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan represented some of the activists, Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde appeared on behalf of the law students who had written the letter to the CJI.

Both the counsels consonantly submitted that the issue of Aarey being a forest or not is already pending adjudication before the Supreme Court apart from the fact that the National Green Tribunal was considering the issue whether such area fell under an ecological sensitive zone or not and therefore, the Maharashtra government along with Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation should have refrained from cutting hundred of trees on Saturday and Sunday pending the final decisions in the above-stated matter.

Senior Advocate Maninder Singh argued on behalf of the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (MMRCL).

On joint prayer by both the parties, the batch matters were referred to be listed before the Forest Bench on October 21 as the said Bench is hearing the matter pertaining to the similar issues in T.N. Godhavarman’s case.

On Saturday, the Bombay High Court had dismissed the stay application for cutting of over 2000 trees in the Aarey colony for construction of the metro car shed for MMRCL, after which, the authorities axed several hundred trees in the meantime of 48 Hours before the matter came up before Supreme Court on Monday.

Protesters had gathered in huge number around the area to stop officials from taking the down the trees as the colony is adjoining to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and is a major protector of the environment in the surrounding area consisting of around 5 lakh trees.

But, the government had imposed a curfew under section 144 Cr.P.C. to stop the protestors. Since then, hashtags such as AareyChipko and SaveAarey have been trending over the social media in support of prohibiting the government from cutting the trees.

Tagged: Supreme Court   Suo Moto Cognizance   CJI   Aarey   Save Aarey   Maharashtra Government  
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