28 May 2023 7:30 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court recently sentenced two senior officers of the Public Works Department to imprisonment after they were held guilty of contempt of court last year for not following judicial orders with regard of protection of trees. The court had earlier directed the PWD to "exercise due caution apropos all its ongoing civil works as well as for all future...
The Delhi High Court recently sentenced two senior officers of the Public Works Department to imprisonment after they were held guilty of contempt of court last year for not following judicial orders with regard of protection of trees. The court had earlier directed the PWD to "exercise due caution apropos all its ongoing civil works as well as for all future projects."
Justice Najmi Waziri sentenced the Engineer-in-Chief and Executive Engineer of PWD to four and two months in jail respectively, along with fine of Rs. 2000 each.
“This sentence shall be kept in abeyance for a period of ten weeks from the date of uploading the order on the court‟s website, so as to accord them sufficient opportunity to avail their legal remedies, as maybe available to them. Should this order not be altered or stayed, then upon the expiry of the ten weeks, the contemnors shall present themselves before the Registrar General of this court for them to be sent to judicial custody,” the court said in an order passed on May 18.
The court was hearing a contempt petition moved by New Delhi Nature Society highlighting the issue of laying down of pipelines or cable lines being undertaken by BSES Rajhdhani Power Limited on Bipin Chandra Pal Marg and nearby areas at Chittaranjan Park.
The society, represented by Advocate Aditya N Prasad, alleged that the work had damaged the roots of the standing trees. It was the also contended that the action was in violation of various orders of the High Court as well as the National Green Tribunal which mandated leaving of “one meter kutcha space” around the trees while undertaking any construction activity.
While holding them guilty of contempt of court in March last year, Justice Waziri had noted that the two officials disobeyed the judicial orders and the construction work on the site in question continued despite a status-quo order being issued by the court on February 25, 2022.
"The said work was being carried out on a road maintained by PWD. It was for PWD to have ensured that the work at site was stopped. It chose not to, in clear breach of the court’s directions," the court had observed.
It had also noted that PWD itself had re-laid the pavements and created manholes of 6’x6’ radius around 16 trees.
In the sentencing order, the court observed that despite repeated directions and orders passed by the High Court and NGT, there has been a “consistent disregard in their compliance.”
“Such recalcitrance to abide by the law and defiance of the court's orders cannot merit anything less than a sentence,” Justice Waziri said.
Case Title: New Delhi Nature Society v. Rajesh Bansal & Ors.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 450
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