Aarey forest case: No more trees will be cut, order passed by the Supreme Court

Aarey forest case: No more trees will be cut, order passed by the Supreme Court

Aarey forest case: No more trees will be cut, order passed by the Supreme Court

A huge number of law students of a Noida based university recently had approached Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, relating to seek the court’s immediate interference towards stop felling of trees in Mumbai.

The letter has been sent to the CJI by Rishav Ranjan on behalf of a student delegation on 7th October 2019, which comes two days after the Bombay High Court had rejected to declare Aarey Colony a forest and refused to stop the Mumbai municipal corporation's ruling to permit felling of over 2,600 trees in the green zone towards setting up a metro car shed.

The Bombay High Court had on 4th October 2019 had rejected an appeal against the cutting of trees, and the BMC soon after started cutting trees down under the cover of night, leading in the direction of massive protests. To save the trees, numerous protestors gathered at the location to raise their voice against the chopping of trees. Also, later on, a huge number of people joined the protestors near the Aarey colony area, where the Mumbai Police levied Section 144, thus banning unlawful assembly. The group of protestors was demanding the repositioning of the bus depot, which is a part of the Metro III project. The group of activists who had sternly protested against the ruling was arrested by the police.

On 5th October, the Bombay High Court had rejected to entertain urgent mentioning through Aarey activists in order to stay the current tree cutting. 

The Supreme Court Orders Status Quo relating to Cutting of Trees for Mumbai Metro Car Shed

The special vacation bench of the Supreme Court on 7th October 2019 had passed an order status quo on cutting down of trees in Aarey colony in Mumbai suburbs till the court pass any further orders.

This took place after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for Maharashtra Government, undertook that no additional trees shall be cut and that the legitimacy of the tree chopping which already occurred could be decided through the environment bench after the Dusshera vacation.

The Solicitor General had stated that whatever has to be cut is cut; there shall not be any further cutting.

The Court also directed the release of the detained environmental activists who had protested against tree cutting. The matter shall be next heard on 21st October 2019.

The two judges’ bench comprising of Justices Arun Mishra and Ashok Bhushan has been created after a group of law students had written to Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in order to seek the apex court's urgent interference to stop the cutting down of trees in Aarey colony. This comes a day after the Bombay High Court declined an application moved by activists seeking a stay on the chopping of trees.

Senior Advocates Sanjay Hegde as well as Gopal Shankaranarayanan had appeared for the students and activists. They submitted that the matter whether Aarey is a forest or not is still undecided in the Supreme Court. The National Green Tribunal is seeing the matter whether the zone is an eco-sensitive zone. Thus, the authorities must have avoided doing from cutting trees pending verdict.
The Chief Justice of Bombay High Court had verbally observed on 4th October 2019 that he expected that authorities would not commence the cutting the trees before the activists moved the SC, the petitioners submitted.

On 4th October 2019, a division bench of the Bombay High Court containing Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre rejected five petitions filed by NGOs and activists challenging cutting down of trees in Aarey Colony in Goregaon.

The Court stated that the verdict taken by the Urban Development Department towards reserving the area for metro car shed (in accordance with the notifications issued on 24th August 2017 and 9th November 2017) has been challenged in the Bombay High Court in a preceding case. The challenge has not been entertained by means of the division bench then. That division bench in its ruling given on 26th October 2018 stated that there was nothing on record in the direction of showing that the plot was a forest. The SLP against that ruling is pending in Supreme Court. Moreover, one more case is pending in the National Green Tribunal seeking announcement of the zone as forest and challenging the barring of the region from notice for eco-sensitive zones issued through the Union Ministry of Environment of Forests in 2016.

In this view, the High Court in its 4th October verdict stated that the petitions could not be entertained as the matter was already settled by an earlier co-ordinate bench

On the following day, an application for stay of the decision was moved asserting that the authorities were taking hurried plans to chop down the trees taking benefit of the holidays in the Supreme Court. The applicants, therefore, sought after a stay till they move the SC against the decision. But a special bench of the Bombay High Court on 5th October had rejected the stay application.

The authorities then proceeded to cut the trees in the area among the restriction levied under Section 144 CrPC to hold off protesters. Numerous protesters have been detained by police from the site.


More than 2000 trees in the Aarey colony were planned to be cut for the construction of a metro car depo for the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. As said by the environmentalists, the Aarey colony, gauging 1,287 hectares and situated adjoining to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, is a main green lung of the city.



eStartIndia Team

Leave a Comment

Previous Comments

Related Blogs