Bombay HC asks BMC if more experts will be appointed on Tree Authority

These are administrative matters, so we are not going to interfere…, said a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice A J Bhambhani.

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday sought to know from the BMC if they were willing to appoint more experts on the Tree Authority, as per the high court s directions.

The vacation bench of Justice Sandeep Shinde and Justice Sarang Kotwal were hearing three applications moved in the matter. Activist Zoru Bhatena had filed a plea stating that the newly appointed committee to hear the applications for felling of trees was not as per the law laid down by this court. A second application, filed by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation, stated that their work on the car depot at Aarey for the Colaba-Andheri-SEEPZ Metro line-3 had come to a halt as its application to cut trees was pending with the Tree Authority.

The third application, moved by BMC s Tree Authority, sought permission to start functioning, claiming that it had complied with the October 2018 HC order and nominated four experts.

BMC Counsel Rajiv Patil on Wednesday told court that they have appointed appropriate number of experts on its Tree Authority as prescribed under section 3(3) of Maharashtra (Urban Areas)Protection and Preservation of Trees.

He said that the Municipal Commissioner also has powers to cast a vote on the applications for felling of trees.

Advocate Sonal, appearing for Bhathena, however, told the court that the committee constituted was not as per the law laid down by the court. She further said that the Tree Authority had 14 corporators and just four experts, while, as per the law laid by the court, there should be five corporators and equal number of experts on the committee.

The bench said that in such situation, where the corporators are more than the number of experts, the view of the corporator prevail over the experts.

Justice Kotwal said that the 2018 order was passed by the High Court to ensure equal number of experts and corporators on the panel so that neither of the group overpowered the other . The bench asked if the corporation was ready to appoint more experts in the future if they got appropriate ones.