A bench of Acting Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and Justice Sandeep Marne was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by activist Zoru Bathena challenging the permission granted by the city's municipal commissioner to MMRCL to fell 177 trees
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The Bombay High Court on Friday noted that "propriety" demanded the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) not cut trees at Aarey Colony in the metropolis for a metro rail carshed until it seeks clarification from the Supreme Court with regard to the number of trees to be felled.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and Justice Sandeep Marne was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by activist Zoru Bathena challenging the permission granted by the city's municipal commissioner to MMRCL to fell 177 trees.
Bathena claimed that, in 2022, the Supreme Court had allowed the MMRCL to cut only 84 trees.
The bench on Friday said the authorities ought to seek clarification from the apex court.
"Propriety would require that the respondent no. 2 (MMRCL) shall not fell the trees pursuant to the impugned order until it seeks clarification/order from the Hon'ble Apex Court," the HC said.
The SC, on November 29, 2022, permitted the MMRCL to move the BMC's Tree Authority for felling of 84 trees for clearance of the shunting neck area.
However, on March 15, the BMC commissioner granted permission to fell 177 trees. The MMRCL justified the increase in number of trees claiming the earlier application for felling 84 trees was of 2019 and over the years shrubs had grown into trees.
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Pursuant to earlier HC remarks, the MMRCL has filed an application before the apex court seeking clarification, which is likely to come up for hearing on April 11.
During the hearing on Friday, the HC noted it is not a matter of debate that the SC has granted permission to the MMRCL to move the Tree Authority to the extent of 84 trees.
However, the permission by the BMC is for 177 trees, the HC said.
"The same is beyond the liberty granted by the Apex Court. In light of that, it will not be possible for this Court to accept the contention of BMC and MMRCL that the civic body could permit the MMRCL to fell trees beyond 84," the court said.
The bench said the Metro project was of public importance but the court cannot pass any order since the matter was pending before the apex court.
"There is no doubt that the metro project involves public interest and public purpose. There cannot be any debate in the proposition that the balance has to be struck between sustainable development and ecology," it said.
The court posted the matter for further hearing on April 27.
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