HC’s nod for auction of trees comes with a rider : The Tribune India

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HC’s nod for auction of trees comes with a rider

CHANDIGARH: Just a day before the scheduled auction of 2,039 trees in Nawanshahr district, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has given its nod to the process, but with a rider.



Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 22

Just a day before the scheduled auction of 2,039 trees in Nawanshahr district, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has given its nod to the process, but with a rider. A Division Bench has made it clear that not even a single tree in excess will come under the hammer. For the purpose of ensuring compliance of the directions, the Bench has issued specific directions to the Nawanshahr District Development and Panchayat Officer and the Balachaur Block Development and Panchayat Officer.

The directions by the Bench of Justice Satish Kumar Mittal and Justice Deepak Sibal came on a petition filed in public interest by Sukhbinder Singh against the State of Punjab and other respondents. A resident of Raipur village in Balachaur tehsil, he had moved the High Court for issuance of directions to the respondents “not to hold the auction of trees in the village as permitted by the Deputy Director, Department of Development and Panchayat, vide letter dated January 7”. His apprehension was that unmarked trees, along with the marked ones, would also be auctioned. His counsel contended that the value of only 2,039 trees had been assessed by the Divisional Forest Officers of Nawanshahr and Garhshankar, whereas more than 2,500 trees were growing in the panchayat area. As such, the gram panchayat may be permitted to sell “only the marked trees, which have been valued”.

Taking up the matter, the Bench asserted: “As per the permission dated July 7, the District Development and Panchayat Officer, Nawanshahr, and Block Development and Panchayat Officer, Balachaur, have been directed to remain present in the auction. It is under their supervision that the auction of the trees will be held on January 23.”

Under such circumstances, we direct both the officers to ensure that no unmarked tree and whose value has not been assessed be allowed to be sold and only 2,039 trees, value of which has been assessed, are auctioned”.

What the court says

The Nawanshahr District Development and Panchayat Officer and the Balachaur Panchayat Officer have been directed to remain present at the auction on January 23. They must ensure that no unmarked tree is auctioned

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