Delhi HC issues contempt notice to forest official over tree felling at JNU campus

The matter on May 3, the Delhi Forest Department did not inform the court about the permission granted for felling two trees and transplanting 123 others
The court's order stems from a 2022 directive requiring tree officers to provide detailed reasons for felling even a single tree
The court's order stems from a 2022 directive requiring tree officers to provide detailed reasons for felling even a single treeEdexLive Desk

The Delhi High Court (HC) has issued a contempt of court notice to the Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF), South Division. This was for authorising the felling and transplantation of trees at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus, in defiance of a previous court order. This was stated in a report by IANS.

Justice Jasmeet Singh noted that despite the court taking up the matter on May 3, the Delhi Forest Department did not inform the court about the permission granted for felling two trees and transplanting 123 others.

The court's order stems from a 2022 directive requiring tree officers to provide detailed reasons for felling even a single tree. Allegations surfaced that these guidelines were ignored, with permissions granted 22 times between May and August 2022.

On August 31, 2023, the Delhi government assured the court that no permissions for tree felling would be granted until the next hearing, unless for critical projects, which would need to be reported to the court.

However, during a recent hearing, the court took note of the unauthorised tree felling and transplantation on April 29 for a construction project at the Institute of Secretariat Training and Management (ISTM), Old JNU Campus.

The Forest Division had filed an application, which was later withdrawn, seeking clarification on whether permissions should be merely intimated or submitted for court approval. This application was supported by an affidavit from the DCF, South Division.

Justice Singh clarified that the court’s prior observations were not blanket permission for DCFs to authorise tree cutting for important projects, contradicting the August 2023 order. Consequently, the court found the DCF prima facie guilty of contempt and demanded an explanation as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him.

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