In the wake of pending environment cases, the Forest Bench of the Supreme Court yesterday agreed to work on Holidays to clear Environment Cases.
The forest bench laid down schedule for the environment cases for the next two months. The bench will sit for three days during Dussehra holidays to hear mining cases relating to Haryana and Rajasthan.
The three-judge forest bench comprising of Justice S. Khehar, Justice Chelameswar and Justice A.K. Sikri, asked the support of the Bar to successfully execute this effort.
Addressed the Bar, the Bench said that “this will be a joint effort”, to which Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar replied: “If your lordships are willing, we are ready,”
It is to be noted that there are several cases involving mining and building infrastructure such as roads in forested areas, which need urgent adjudication.
The Haryana mining Case involves the alleged violations of forest conservation laws, including indiscriminate mining in Shivalik hills and stoppage of developmental work on the Gurgaon-Manesar Master Plan 2021, and building part of the Gurgaon-Faridabad link road that passes through the Aravalli hills.
The Rajasthan Mining Case involves illegal quarrying of stones in the Aravalli hills.
These two cases are scheduled to be heard on this Dussehra Holidays i.e. on September 29 and 30 and October 1.
The Bench was assisted by Harish Salve, Senior Lawyer at Supreme Court, who prepared a list of important & priority matters including adjudication of Haryana and Rajasthan Mining Cases. The other matter involved creation of buffer zones around national parks and the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) case.
He submitted that “These cases involve a large sum of money which is held till the matter is resolved. The CAMPA case alone deals with Rs.38, 000 crore, which sufficient for the entire afforestation effort in the country.”
The other lawyers at the apex Court remarked: “Although the forest bench is trying to do its best, the number of cases before it is very high”
Considering the fact that the backlog of cases are becoming unbearable, Mr. Adv. Harish Salve also said: “To deal with the backlog, which goes back to at least 2004, the forest bench would need to sit daily, instead of the present system of once a week.” He also suggested that “the alternative is to let the High Courts and the National Green Tribunal deal with these cases, with the apex court hearing the matter in appeal.”