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Supreme Court shows Haryana govt its place, stays law changed to allow construction on Aravallis

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Supreme Court shows Haryana govt its place, stays law changed to allow construction on Aravallis

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Two days after it brazenly pushed through an amendment to a 119-year-old law to allow construction on Aravalli hills, the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government in Haryana was today (Friday, March 1) rebuked by the Supreme Court and told not to implement the Bill it had got passed in state assembly.

“Do you think you are supreme? It is sheer contempt of court,” the Supreme Court told Haryana government.

“The state is in gross contempt of the court. You may think you are supreme, it is the law that is supreme,” the bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta said.

The bench added: “No action to be taken by the Haryana Govt in furtherance of the PLPA amendment. The Legislature is not supreme, the courts view must also prevail, you cannot get rid of the Judiciary like this.”

The state government had pushed through a Bill amending the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), which protects the green cover of the Aravalli. The amendment had the effect of throwing open around 60,000 acres of forests in Gurgaon, Faridabad, Nuh, Mehendargarh and Rewari, for construction purposes.

Ordering the state government not to implement the Bill, the Supreme Court said, “We will not allow such kind of misadventure…You are not above the law…Legislature is not supreme…It is really shocking that you are trying to destroy the forests.”

The top court said that it was aware that the Haryana government “will do this to favour the builders…and that is why we had warned earlier.”

“It’s shocking that you still went ahead despite our warning,” observed the court during a hearing on an illegal colony – Kant Enclave – in Faridabad. The Bill grants legitimacy to Kant Enclave, nestled in the Aravalli hills. The top court had ordered the demolition of the colony last year.

The matter will be heard again on Friday, March 8.

The court made the observation while hearing a plea by noted environmental lawyer MC Mehta raising concern large-scale and flagrant violations in a large number of immoveable properties throughout Delhi, flagrant violations of various laws including Municipal Laws, Master Plan and other plans besides environmental laws.

Amicus Curiae (advisor to the court) Ranjit Kumar, had brought to the notice of Supreme Court, about the PLPA amendment in the Haryana Assembly on Wednesday.

The amendment was passed amid uproar in the House with the opposition Congress and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) legislators demanding that the bill is sent to an assembly committee for re-examination. The Opposition said that the new law will only help real estate developers and mining companies and claimed that the BJP government in the state passed the contentious bill allegedly to win the support of the real estate dealers ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Residents of Gurgaon, Faridabad and Delhi have been protesting for last few months against allowing construction and other commercial activities in the Aravalli green belt – a delicate ecological zone and biodiversity hotspot – that is home to nearly 400 species of plants and some 200 species of native and migratory birds.

At 3.59 percent, Haryana already has the lowest forest cover in the country compared to the India average of 24 percent. The PLPA is meant to protect areas ‘not notified’ under the Indian Forest Act as reserve or protected forests in the states of Haryana and Punjab. In Haryana, the PLPA extends protection to forests and trees on private lands, community lands, panchayat and municipal lands in the uncultivable hills of the Aravallis in the south and Shiwaliks in the northern parts of the state. Forest areas notified as per special orders under the PLPA in Haryana amount to 75,000 acres, or 33% of the effective forest land in the state.

The amended law excludes tracts of land included in the final development plans or town improvement plans from the ambit of the PLPA and was applicable with retrospective as well prospective effect.

The amended law also granted legitimacy to Kant Enclave in Faridabad, which was built on PLPA notified land and was ordered to be demolished by the Supreme Court.

The apex court had then said, “Kant Enclave is a forest or is a forest land or is required to be treated as a forest or forest land and absolutely no construction activity could have been permitted on it with effect from August 18, 1992. Any and all construction activity in Kant Enclave since that date is illegal and impermissible in law.”

The chief minister, however, assured the House that there was no wrong intention behind the amendment bill. “And if one believes there is any wrong intent, then one can challenge it in a court of law,’’ Khattar said. It was challenged and Khattar got rapped on his knuckles.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Calcutta High Court suggests changing name of Sita, Akbar lions

Justice Saugata Bhattacharyya asked AAG whether he had any pets and if they were named after national heroes.

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The Calcutta High Court on Thursday suggested to the Bengal government that the names of lioness Sita and lion Akbar, who were placed in the same enclosure at the Bengal Safari Park in Siliguri, could be changed.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had filed a petition in the High Court to change the name of the lioness Sita, who was recently brought to West Bengal from Tripura.

Hearing a petition, the Single-Judge Bench of Justice Saugata Bhattacharyya orally directed the State to avoid controversy and consider renaming the big cats.

Questioning the intention of the State, Justice Bhattacharyya asked the government if it would name a lion after a Hindu deity, a Muslim prophet or Christian god, a freedom fighter or a Nobel laureate. Generally, anyone who has been revered or respected by the people of our country, Justice Bhattacharyya further asked.

On this occasion, the Additional Advocate General (AAG), appearing for the State, submitted that the naming of the lions took place in Tripura, and it was the responsibility of the Tripura Zoo authorities. Counsel further told the Court that the State itself was already considering changing the name of lions.

Upon hearing the arguments, the Bench also questioned the logic behind naming the lions after a god, freedom fighter or Nobel laureate and further asked why the State did not challenge the names given by Tripura.

The Court further noted that the petition filed by VHP espoused the rights of a large section of people and said that naming a lion after Sita, a largely worshipped by Hindus would hurt their religious sentiments.

During the exchange with AAG, Justice Bhattacharyya also stated that the animals could not be named after respected figures. He further asked AAG whether he had any pets and if they were named after national heroes.

The Bench had directed the petition by VHP to be reclassified as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and redirected it to a regular Bench that can hear the same.

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Farmer who died in protest, survived by mentally ill father, unwed sister

Farmer Leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal has asked the Punjab Government to declare Shubhkaran Singh a martyr and provide benefits accordingly. 

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The 21-year-old farmer, Shubhkaran Singh who died during the clashes between the police and the protesting farmers on Khanauri border left behind his mentally ill father and an unwed sister. His mother died years ago.

The 21 years old, a resident of Balloch village of Bathinda in Punjab, left his home on February 13 to join the Delhi Chalo march. Reports stated that Shubhkaran Singh was the youngest among the group of 15 people who left to join the protest from the village.

Reportedly, Shubhkaran was the only son and sole breadwinner of the family. The 21-year-old farmer has about two acres of land. Shubhkaran, who has two sisters, also took a loan for the marriage of his one sister.

The farmers who halted their protest for two days after the death of the youth, have blocked the autopsy. Farmer Leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal has asked the AAP led Punjab Government to declare Shubhkaran a martyr and provide benefits accordingly. The leader further said that the government should create a five member board to conduct the post-mortem examination.

Meanwhile, farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said that the police took action when the farmers were peacefully trying to cross over into Haryana. He added that more than 100 farmers have been injured and demanded the treatment of injured farmers.

Haryana police while appealing for peace said that farmers escalated the violence by attacking the police personnels with sticks and maces and that the police were only trying to restrain them.

Issuing a statement, Additional Inspector General, Manisha Chaudhary said that farmers surrounded the police from all sides, burned stubble by pouring chilli powder in it. She added that around 12 policemen were seriously injured because of the attacks by protestors at Datta Singh Wala-Khanauri border.

Meanwhile, farmer’s leader Pandher said that farmer leaders will discuss future actions and until then, all farmers will remain camped at the borders.

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Congress slams Govt over X blocking accounts linked to farmers protest on Centre’s order, says democracy is being murdered

X disagreed with these actions and maintain that freedom of expression should extend to these posts.

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The Congress party on Thursday slammed the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government over the action of microblogging platform X blocking accounts and posts linked to the ongoing farmers’ protest and called it a murder of democracy.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh, taking to X, said that the action taken by the social media platform on the Centre’s order was a murder of democracy in India.

The Elon Musk-led X, sharing a post on its platform in response to the IT ministry’s order asking it to temporarily block 177 accounts linked to the farmers’ protest, said that the Indian government has issued executive orders requiring it to act on specific accounts and posts, subject to potential penalties, including significant fines and imprisonment.

The X’s Global Government Affairs team further stated that it complied with the orders and they would withhold these accounts and posts in India alone, however, they disagreed with these actions and maintained that freedom of expression should extend to these posts.

Consistent with their position, a writ appeal challenging the Indian government’s blocking orders remains pending. X has also provided the impacted users with notice of these actions following their policies.

Due to legal restrictions, they were unable to publish the executive orders, but they thought that making them public was essential for transparency. This lack of disclosure can lead to a lack of accountability and arbitrary decision-making, the X’s Global Government Affairs said in a post on its platform.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also hit out at the Modi government and termed it a murder of democracy. Taking to X, he raised several questions and said if farmers ask for MSP, shoot them. Is this the Mother of Democracy? Gandhi further said that when the youth ask for the appointment, the Centre refuse to even listen to them, if the former governor tells the truth, then they send CBI to his house.

He also attacked the Modi government for freezing the bank accounts of the most prominent opposition party. He added, saying that Section 144, internet ban, sharp wires, and tear gas shells on farmers are not justified in the democracy. He further attacked the Centre for suppressing the voice of the people. He charged on Centre, saying Modi ji public knows that the government have murdered democracy and they will answer it.

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