SC criticises UP government on forest land claims
The bench said it would hear the allottees before accepting UP government’s plea. The state was also pulled up for not having any disciplinary control over its officials.Updated: Sep 20, 2019 04:48 IST
Uttar Pradesh government came under criticism from the Supreme Courton Thursday for allowing private claims on forest lands which, it said, was done in contravention of its July 1994 order that disallowed diversion of forest land for industrial purpose.
A bench led by Justice Arun Mishra made some strong remarks against the state when it asked for a blanket order to quash all settlement claims allowed by Forest Settlement Officers from 1994 onwards, allowing industries to operate in the Renukoot-Mirzapur reserved forest area.
Appearing for the state, solicitor general Tushar Mehta said over 1,000 industries and individuals had laid claim to the reserved forest land.
“You keep sleeping. The State has been sleeping for 26 years and now you want us to pass ex-parte order (without hearing others) to remove everyone,” said justice Mishra, warning the state that such a direction would have “serious repercussions.”
The bench said it would hear the allottees before accepting UP government’s plea. The state was also pulled up for not having any disciplinary control over its officials. “Are these officials (Forest Settlement Officers) still passing orders and granting claims to the forest land,” the bench enquired from the law officer.
The court then asked Mehta to submit a list of all industries and units that had been granted land illegally in forest.
In its application filed in the forest rights case, the UP government wants all orders passed after July 18, 1994 by Forest Settlement Officers and additional district judges to be declared null and void. The list of allottees also includes NTPC and Northern Coalfields Limited (NCL).
The state said all orders in favour of these two units by the Forest Settlement Officers and additional district judges should also be set aside.