Judgment of the Supreme Court of India on forests in Haryana, 21/07/2022
Judgment of the Supreme Court of India in the matter of Narinder Singh & Others Vs Divesh Bhutani & Others dated 21/07/2022.
The issue related to whether a land covered under a special order issued by the government of Haryana under section 4 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900 (PLPA) is a forest land within the meaning of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
The Supreme Court directed that "the lands covered by the special orders issued under Section 4 of PLPA have all the trappings of forest lands within the meaning of Section 2 of the 1980 Forest Act". Therefore, the state government or competent authority cannot permit its use for non-forest activities without the prior approval of the Central Government with effect from 25th October 1980. Prior permission of the Central Government is required to allow any change of use of forest or so to say deemed forest land.
Concerned authorities shall take action to remove the remaining illegal structures standing on land covered by the special orders and used for non-forest activities on the said lands erected after October 25, 1980, without prior approval of the Central Government, and further "to restore status quo ante including to undertake reforestation/afforestation programmes in right earnest," the judgment of the SC, July 21 said.