SC said it will look into the legality of tree felling and ordered the state government to release all protesters if not released already
The Supreme Court of India (SC) on October 7 ordered status quo on felling of trees at Mumbai’s Aarey Colony until further orders.
The top court directed Maharashtra government to not cut trees at Aarey any more. The next hearing in the matter will take place on October 21.
The apex court said it will look into the legality of tree felling and ordered the state government to release all protesters if not released already.
SC recorded Maharashtra government’s undertaking that no more trees would be cut in Aarey.
A two-judge bench comprising of Justices Arun Mishra and Ashok Bhushan heard the matter. Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta represented the Maharashtra government.
Senior Advocates Sanjay Hegde and Gopal Sankaranarayan represented Aarey activists.
Reports suggest that the Supreme Court asked if there was any notification categorising Aarey an 'eco-sensitive zone' during the hearing.
Sankaranarayan, citing a 2012 notification, said that Aarey was an unclassified forest.
The apex court had on October 6 taken suo motu cognisance the matter and decided to register as public interest litigation (PIL) a letter addressed to Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi by a law student Rishav Ranjan. The letter sought a stay on the cutting of trees at the Aarey Colony.
The letter sent to the CJI by Rishav Ranjan on behalf a student delegation on October 6 came two days after the Bombay High Court had refused to declare Aarey Colony a forest and declined to quash the Mumbai municipal corporation's decision to allow felling of over 2,600 trees in the green zone to set up a car shed for Mumbai Metro’s Line 3.
The students, in their letter, requested the top court "to exercise its epistolary jurisdiction to protect Aarey without getting into technicalities as there was no time for preparation of a proper appeal petition and cover the scars of these young activists who are responsible citizens standing for serious environmental concerns".
The letter also said that the students moved the apex court as the Bombay High Court rejected the bail plea of 29 activists who had participated in the "peaceful vigil" against the tree-felling and have been detained by Mumbai police.
It alleged that the student-activists had been abused and manhandled by the Mumbai Police which booked them for the offences of 'assault on a public servant to deter him from discharging his duty' and 'unlawful assembly' under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).However, a Sessions Court in Mumbai granted bail to the 29 protesters later on October 6. They were subsequently released from the Thane Jail.
Mumbai's #AareyForest matter: 29 protesters were released from Thane jail after bail was granted to them yesterday. They were arrested from Aarey on charges of disturbing public order & obstructing govt officials from performing their duties. pic.twitter.com/3oOSLVaXv9
— ANI (@ANI) October 7, 2019
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