Supreme Court warns Haryana government it will be in 'trouble' if anything is done to forests on Aravalli Hills
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta observed this after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for Haryana, said he will satisfy the court that amendments in the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), 1900 were not done to 'help somebody'
On 1 March, the bench had come down heavily on the Haryana government for passing amendments to the law and said the state would not act on it without the court's permission
On 27 February, the Haryana Assembly had passed amendments to the Act opening up thousands of acres of land to real estate
The amendments to the Act were passed by the state assembly amid vociferous protests and walkout by opposition parties
New Delhi: The Supreme Court warned the Haryana government on Friday that it will be in "trouble" if it has done "anything" with Aravalli hills or forest area by passing amendments to an Act to allow construction there.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta observed this after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for Haryana, said he will satisfy the court that amendments in the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), 1900 were not done to "help somebody".
"We are concerned with Aravalli. If you are doing anything with Aravalli or Kant Enclave (where the top court had ordered demolition of buildings due to illegal constructions in forest area) you will be in trouble. If you are doing anything with forest, you will be in trouble. We are telling you," the bench told Mehta.
On 1 March, the bench had come down heavily on the Haryana government for passing amendments to the law and said the state would not act on it without the court's permission.
On 27 February, the Haryana Assembly had passed amendments to the Act opening up thousands of acres of land to real estate and other non-forest activity in the area that was protected under it for over a century.
The amendments to the Act were passed by the state assembly amid vociferous protests and walkout by opposition parties.
Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar had said that the Punjab Land Preservation (Haryana Amendment) Bill, 2019, was the "need of the hour", and had added that it was a "very old" Act and much has changed over a period of time.
This issue has cropped up in the court which is dealing with a matter in which it had earlier directed demolition of illegal constructions in forest area of Aravalli hills in Haryana.
During the brief hearing on Friday, Mehta told the bench that the Assembly has passed the bill but it has not become an Act yet.
He also said that media reports which claimed the amendments was passed by the state government to favour real estate developers were not correct.
"I have examined them (amendments). It does not say what the newspapers have said," he told the bench, adding, "When the matter will come up for hearing, I will be able to satisfy the court that it (amendments) is not for helping somebody".
Mehta told the bench that he will file the copy of the amendments in the court. The bench has posted the matter for further hearing in the first week of April.
The court was earlier told that despite the apex court's order to demolish certain structures in Kant Enclave, the state government has made certain amendments in PLPA to permit construction in the forest area and PLPA region also.
The PLPA was enacted by the then Punjab government in 1900 and it provided for conservation of subsoil water and prevention of erosion in areas found to be subject to erosion or likely to become liable to erosion.
The orders and notifications issued under the provisions of the act extend to approximately 10,945 sq km, accounting roughly for about 25 percent area of Haryana and it covers, wholly or partly, 14 out of the state's 22 districts.
The top court had in January, 2019 extended till 31 July the deadline for house owners, whose buildings were ordered to be demolished due to illegal constructions in forest area of Aravalli hills, to vacate their premises subject to furnishing of undertaking in this regard.
The court had said the 33 house owners in Faridabad's Kant Enclave, who were earlier directed by the apex court to vacate their premises by 31 March, would get time till 31 July if they file undertaking that they would vacate the properties by then.
On 11 September 2018, the apex court had termed "frightening" the illegal construction in the forest area of Aravalli hills and directed the Haryana government to demolish the unauthorised structures built there after 18 August, 1992.
The court had lashed out at the Haryana government and said the construction activity carried out by R Kant and Company, a private realtor who was a party to the case, was clearly in violation of the 18 August, 1992 notification and also in blatant defiance of the court's orders.
The 1992 notification issued under the provisions of the Punjab Land Preservation (PLP) Act had prohibited clearing or breaking up of land not ordinarily under cultivation.
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