Bombay high court refuses to stay tree cutting at Aarey Colony in Mumbai
A division bench of justices SC Dharmadhikari and AK Menon rejected the plea filed by activist Zoru Bhathena and non-governmental organisation Vanshakti on Saturday morning, seeking an urgent, temporary restraining order to keep MMRC from continuing with the tree cutting.Updated: Oct 06, 2019 07:38 IST
The Bombay high court (HC) on Saturday refused to halt the tree cutting at Aarey Milk Colony to make way for a car shed for Metro-3, being developed by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC).
A division bench of justices SC Dharmadhikari and AK Menon rejected the plea filed by activist Zoru Bhathena and non-governmental organisation Vanshakti on Saturday morning, seeking an urgent, temporary restraining order to keep MMRC from continuing with the tree cutting. Hours after another HC bench dismissed separate petitions against tree-cutting on Friday, MMRC began felling trees in Aarey Milk Colony. The petitioners contended that they wanted to appeal to the Supreme Court to challenge the HC order, but the apex court is closed till October 14 on account of Dussehra vacations.
Advocate Sonal, appearing for Bhathena, told the court on Saturday that after the HC pronounced its judgment on Friday, the bench headed by the chief justice expected MMRC to maintain status quo and not start cutting trees at Aarey Milk Colony. She urged the bench to restrain MMRC from continuing tree cutting till the petitioners could move Supreme Court for appropriate relief.
Appearing for MMRCL, advocate Akshay Shinde said an oral request to stay the judgement was made on Friday and rejected by the bench. He also pointed out that a huge investment has been made in the Metro rail project and a restraining order would result in delays.
On Saturday, justices Dharmadhikari and Menon noted in their order that all petitions questioning tree cutting had been dismissed previously by the HC order passed on Friday. The bench also noted that there was nothing on record to suggest there had been a request to stay the tree-cutting operation. Finally, the bench refused the plea for a restraining order saying it would not be “proper” following Friday’s judgment. “The nature of the relief is such that if it is granted , that would directly contravene the observations, findings and conclusion in the detailed judgment,” said the bench.
On Friday, a division bench comprising chief justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice Bharati Dangre dismissed two petitions filed by Bhathena challenging an August 29 decision of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s tree authority that allowed MMRC to axe 2,646 trees in Aarey Milk Colony. “The fact that the proposal of the project proponent [MMRC] was scaled down with respect to the number of trees to be felled is proof of the decision being fair, transparent and based on reason,” said the bench while upholding the decision of the tree authority. The same bench also rejected a petition filed by Vanashakti seeking a declaration that Aarey Milk Colony was a forest or an eco-sensitive zone that required protection.