16 Aug 2023 5:00 AM GMT
The Uttarakhand High Court has directed State authorities to file response to a plea filed against alleged illegal mining and felling of trees in Salan Gaon, Dehradun.The bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rakesh Thapliyal said, “We direct the respondent- authorities to file their counter-affidavit within two weeks. The counter-affidavit should specifically state as to what...
The Uttarakhand High Court has directed State authorities to file response to a plea filed against alleged illegal mining and felling of trees in Salan Gaon, Dehradun.
The bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rakesh Thapliyal said, “We direct the respondent- authorities to file their counter-affidavit within two weeks. The counter-affidavit should specifically state as to what action has been taken on the complaints brought on record, which have been filed, not only by the Garm Panchayat, but also by the office of the District Magistrate.”
Arti Joshi, the Gram Pradhan of Salan Gaon in Dehradun, has filed a PIL through Advocate Abhijay Negi. She states that wrongful permission has been granted for alleged illegal mining, which has been enjoyed by the private respondents, even as the villagers lose out on their greenery.
The bench noted that Joshi placed on record documents which show that Harjinder Pal Singh, a private respondent was subjected to a penalty of Rs.1,89,300/- after he was found to be indulging in illegal mining, on the basis of the report of the Tehsildar.
Despite that being the position, he was granted permission by the District Magistrate, Dehradun in June,2023 to level the land claimed by him, and construction of retaining wall, submitted the petitioner.
Joshi further stated that, “759 trees were recorded in the records of the Forest Department, in the area, but on the site, there was none.”
Photographs of the operations being undertaken by the private respondents, which show the deployment of JCB machines, noted the bench.
The plea sought direction to the authorities “to clearly demarcate the existing number of trees, the status of their protection, the permissible limits of mining, if any is permitted and to undertake steps to rejuvenate the depleting water springs that are now almost totally lost in the ecologically fragile region of Salan Gaon in Panchayat Bhagwantpur.”
The Council appearing for the State submitted that, “the present is an abuse of process of this Court, and the petitioner has no locus standi in the present writ petition, and the same does not accord with the view of the Supreme Court in “State of Jharkhand vs. Shiv Shankar Sharma & others, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1541”.
He added further that the petitioner has to explain from where she has accessed the documents from the Government record, which have been filed in the record along with the petition.
“We are dismayed to notice that the State, rather than coming forth and stating that the grievance raised in this petition would be examined, and auctioned, and a report placed before this Court, is stoutly opposing even issuance of notice in this petition,” noted the Court.
The bench further said that Prima facie, the petitioner’s grievance appears to be justified, and in case, we do not entertain this petition, and reject the same at this stage, we would be failing in our constitutional duty.
While issuing notice, the Court stated, “We further direct that, in the meantime, the Mines Officer, Dehradun, shall carry out inspection, if necessary, with the aid of police force, and shall ensure that no illegal activity is carried out by the private respondents.”
The matter is listed for September 15, for further consideration.
Case Title: Arti Joshi v. State of Uttarakhand & Ors.
Appearance: Advocates Abhijay Negi, Snigdha Tiwari and Avil Kaintura, counsels for the petitioner.
S.N. Babulkar, Advocate General assisted by Mr. S.S. Chauhan, Deputy Advocate General for the State- respondent nos.1 to 3.