A sessions court rejected a plea moved by the state government to enhance a fine of Rs 2,000 imposed on a person who had chopped off 31 trees and 38 shrubs in Chembur area in 2001. The court observed that there was a huge delay by the state in filing the appeal against the accused and it cannot survive.
Additional Sessions Judge M L Tahilyani rejected the plea against Sitaram Sayajirao Kamble,a resident of Nandadip Cooperative Housing Society in Chembur. According to the appeal,Kamble had chopped off the trees and shrubs illegally in 2001,thus committed an offence under the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act. It further stated that the trees were felled without the permission of the Tree Authority of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
Kamble had pleaded guilty in 2004,before a Kurla Metropolitan magistrate,who imposed a fine of Rs 2,000 on him for the offence and disposed of the case. However,the state in 2008 filed an appeal for enhancement of the fine amount stating that a fine should be levied for cutting each tree and shrub as chopping off each one constituted an offence.
Interestingly,the appeal has been filed after four years and 174 days. The defence of the state was that the appeal was stuck due to delay in the administrative process. The police,in their appeal,said The public prosecutor department of Kurla court took three years to send a proposal for appeal to the Law and Judiciary Department and the department also took another four months to give the go-ahead for filing the appeal.
Investigating officer Dilip Raut of the Chembur police station said The complainant and the accused in the case are residents of the same society and its their internal fight that made them approach the police. Since the crime was not of a serious nature,we had to go through the complaint over and again. As of now,I havent decided whether we should appeal in the High Court, he said.