Dept cites SC orders against ad hoc de-reservation of forest land

The Forest department has prepared a detailed case study listing out at least 25 Supreme Court orders to support its claim that there cannot be ad hoc de-reservation of notified forest.

The case study is part of an internal note prepared by the Forest department to support its contention that the 177 acres and 28 guntas of land in Jakkur Plantation is a reserved forest and needs to be reclaimed. The said parcel of land has some high-profile claimants, including prominent builders. The land was notified as “Jakkur-Allalasandra Plantation State Forest” under Section 17 of the Mysore Forest Regulation XI of 1900 with effect from November 1, 1940.

The note, prepared after consultation with legal experts, states that as per the present statutory requirement to de-reserve notified forest, a detailed procedure needs to be followed to de-reserve notified forest.

At first, prior consent of the Centre needs to be taken, following which a resolution of both Houses of the State Legislature needs to be passed. A gazette notification declaring that reserve forest ceases to exist needs to be issued after getting clearance from the Supreme Court.

The note states that the apex court, in the WWF-CEL vs the Union of India case in 1995, held that pending further orders no de-reservation of forest shall be effected. The apex court reiterated the same judgement in October 2002. No such procedure has been taken up for the 177-acre disputed land is the contention of the department and hence the entire parcel of land remains “reserved forest”, the note states.

The case studies have been classified into different categories. As many as 10 Supreme Court orders have been cited stating that publication of notification declaring that state forest has been de-reserved in an official gazette is mandatory.

As many as 15 orders have been cited where the Supreme Court has stated that entries in land records are made for collection of revenue assessment and they do not create or extinguish title.

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