The Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside Punjab and Haryana High Court's verdict declaring an entire 3,700 acres of land in village Karoran in Ropar district of Punjab as forest land and directed it to hear the case afresh.
A bench headed by Justice A K Patnaik, however, allowed a CBI probe into alleged land-grabbing and constructions in the forest area as directed by the High Court.
"We, therefore, set aside the finding of the High Court that the entire land in village Karoran, District Ropar, is forest land for the purpose of Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and remand the matter to the High Court for fresh hearing and fresh order in accordance with law.
"Consequently, all directions in the impugned order which flow out of the aforesaid finding of the High Court that the land was forest land for the purpose of Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 are set aside. We, however, make it clear that we have not set aside the directions for investigation by the CBI in the impugned order," it said.
The bench said the High Court failed to appreciate the meaning of forest and forest land as given by the apex court.
The court passed the order on a bunch of petitions filed by different affected parties including Col. B S Sandhu who is the proprietor of the Forest Hill Golf and Country Club situated in the area.