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Supreme Court Upholds Karnataka High Court's Order Of Allowing BMRCL To Cut 577 Trees

Shruti Kakkar
9 March 2022 11:53 AM GMT
Supreme Court Upholds Karnataka High Courts Order Of Allowing BMRCL To Cut 577 Trees
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld Karnataka High Court's order of Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) to act on the expert committee report which had recommended retaining of . onsite 44 trees, translocating 212 trees and cutting 577 trees are to be cut for laying metro lines.The bench of Justice DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath was considering SLP preferred...

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld Karnataka High Court's order of Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) to act on the expert committee report which had recommended retaining of . onsite 44 trees, translocating 212 trees and cutting 577 trees are to be cut for laying metro lines.

The bench of Justice DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath was considering SLP preferred by Dattatraya T Devare assailing Karnataka High Court's order dated December 23, 2021 by which the High Court had also permitted Karnataka Road Development Corporation ("KRDCL") to fell 18 heritage trees for widening of various roads around Bangalore.

A division bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum said that, "So far as cutting of 18 trees is concerned we are of the considered view that we are not experts on whether trees can be cut or not. An Expert body GKVK has already given its opinion. As such we feel that the respondent 7 (KRDCL) shall be allowed to cut the 18 trees and start the project at once and complete in a time-bound manner so that no further delay is caused, we direct accordingly."

The court had also said that, "We are not the experts to give our opinion as to whether the 577 trees are to be cut or not. We shall go by the experts' report and as such accept the recommendation of the tree committee."

"We permit respondent 5 to act in accordance with the tree committee report dated November 2, 2021 and which has been brought on record. The respondent 5 shall accordingly start the work and complete it in a time bound manner," it added.

Courtroom Exchange

When the matter was called for hearing, counsel for the petitioner while referring to the provisions of Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, 1976 had submitted that in cases where there is necessity to fell more than 50 trees for any public purpose the same could be done subject to issuance of public notice inviting objections from public to be considered by the Tree Officer.

Pointing to the Detailed Project Report (DPR) updated in November, 2019 she submitted that earlier only 1218 trees were required to be affected but on considering the three official memorandums are together, the total number of trees had come up to 2115. Counsel further submitted that there was no explanation as to how the number of trees had increased from 1218 to 2115. On this ground she raised objections with regards to the report of the Tree Expert Committee.

"There is a process & legislature which says that trees should be fell in a particular manner. If none applies their mind, it would vitiate the purpose of the legislation. None has applied minds as to why there is such a huge difference," counsel further submitted.

"You have started the project from 2018 already. If you need a metro in Bangalore, the metro can't run in the air, madam. You need to understand that," remarked Justice Surya Kant.

"DPR is bound to have undergone some modification. To the extent possible, trees are being trans located. But you have to do something, unfortunately. There is also alteration in the land they say. Let this be dealt with by the High Court itself. Sorry," added Justice Chandrachud the presiding judge of the bench while dismissing the SLP.

It may be noted that earlier, the Supreme Court of India had restrained the Karnataka Road Development Corporation (KRDCL) from felling heritage trees for widening of various roads around Bangalore, until the matter is decided by the Karnataka High Court.

Case Title: Dattatraya T Devare & Anr. v. State Of Karnataka & Ors

Case No: Special Leave to Appeal (C) No.1901/2022

Click Here To Read/Download Order


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