SC issues criminal contempt notice against DDA vice chairman

  • | Friday | 17th May, 2024

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a criminal contempt notice against Delhi Development Authority vice-chairman Subhasish Panda for allowing large-scale felling of trees in the southern Ridges Satbari area to construct a road from Chhattarpur to Saarc University. A bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan expressed displeasure over the misleading affidavit filed by the vice chairman and presenting wrong facts in the court. It also directed planting of 100 new trees for each tree felled by the DDA. Voicing strong disapproval of the affidavit filed by the DDA vice-chairman which stated that 642 trees were cut without his knowledge, the top court said it "cannot trust the DDA now". "I have been a judge in Constitutional courts for over 20 years now and I have never seen a body misrepresenting facts and filing wrong affidavits. There has to be some limit, never before seen," Justice Oka remarked orally. The top court noted that the felling of trees continued for 10 days and this fact was suppressed by the DDA despite knowing not a single tree could be touched in the ridge area (according to a 19995 order) without the courts permission. It also noted the Delhi LG was also misled by the DDA officials by not informing about the correct facts about the felling of trees. "Such conduct (of DDA VC) and suppression amounts to interference with the due course of court proceedings and administration of justice. We have already issued show cause notice for civil contempt. We therefore issue notice of criminal contempt," the bench said.The apex court also directed the DDA to stop all further activities for construction of the road. "We are of the view that 100 new trees for one tree felled have to be planted by the DDA. We, therefore, direct Forest Survey of India, Dehradun, to visit the road stretches to find out how many trees possibly may have been cut and assess damages. "Entire record of contractor has to be shared. We request FSI team to submit a preliminary report to this court by June 20," the bench said.The top court had earlier issued contempt notice to the vice-chairman of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for the felling of over 1,000 trees for the construction of an approach road.  The apex court on March 4 had refused permission to DDA to fell 1,051 trees saying that their application is very vague.

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