Supreme Court: A special bench of Arun Mishra and Ashok Bhushan, JJ has asked the State of Maharashtra not to cut any further trees till the next date of hearing. The Special Bench was constituted to hear the plea against the cutting of trees in Mumbai’s Aarey colony for the city’s metro rail project after a group of law students wrote to Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi seeking Supreme Court’s intervention in the matter and the cutting of trees to be suspended immediately.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the State of Maharashtra had submitted before the Court that they are not going to cut any further trees till the next date of hearing. , However, in the circumstances, the Court responded,

“the statement is quite fair.”

SG also submitted that the activists who had been arrested have been released and that in case anybody has not been released so far, he/she be released immediately on furnishing personal bond. On this the Court directed,

“Let the statement made be carried out in pith and substance.”

The Court, hence, directed that the matter be heard by the Forest Bench on 21st October, 2019, as the said Bench is hearing the matter pertaining to the similar issues in T.N. Godhavarman’s case.

The Bombay High Court on Friday had rejected four petitions challenging the Mumbai civic body’s Tree Committee order approving the cutting of trees in the colony to make space for Mumbai Metro’s car shed in the area. Authorities in Mumbai, in a midnight move on Friday, began cutting trees after the Bombay High Court order. 29 people have been arrested for protesting against the move and were sent to judicial custody. Many other were were reportedly detained. The activists say cutting trees at Aarey Colony is illegal.

[In re: Felling of trees in Aarey Forest (Maharashtra), 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1322, 07.10.2019]

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