Plea on declaring Aarey a forest: ‘Biggest blunder was you ought not have filed supplementary pleading before HC’

Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog explained at length how the petitioners have made the biggest blunder in their journey to get an order that declares Aarey a forest.

THE BOMBAY High Court on Wednesday said that the petitioners seeking to declare Aarey Colony in Mumbai a forest have made the biggest blunder by filing a supplementary pleading before the HC and not confining itself to only approaching the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

This comes a day after the HC said that no trees shall be felled in Aarey Colony to make way for a Metro car shed till September 30 when it will hear a petition challenging proposed felling of over 2,600 trees in the area.

On Wednesday, while hearing a petition filed by NGO Vanashakti, seeking to declare Aarey a forest, Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog explained at length how the petitioners have made the biggest blunder in their journey to get an order that declares Aarey a forest.

He said that while the petitioners had first approached NGT to declare Aarey a forest, another plea was moved before the tribunal in 2016, challenging the process of declaring it an eco-sensitive zone. He added that the petitioners, meanwhile, also approached the HC, challenging a notification in which the land use of a no-development area was changed to build car shed for Metro 3.

The Chief Justice said that during hearings, when the NGT said that it has no jurisdiction over the matter, the petitioners filed a supplementary pleading before a HC bench, seeking to quash the notification on the basis that Aarey is a forest and an eco-sensitive zone.

He added that the HC bench extensively noted down the arguments of the petitioners and then gave an adverse judgment, which has been challenged before the Supreme Court.

Now you are opening a third front (by approaching HC seeking to declare Aarey a forest). The biggest blunder was that you ought not to have filed a supplementary pleading before HC. You should have straightaway gone to NGT (seeking an order to declare Aarey a forest), the Chief Justice said.