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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Illegal removal of trees: HC dismisses bail plea, directs PCCF to conduct probe into export permit obtained by forest contractor

The Bench of Justice Gurvinder Singh Gill passed the order while hearing the anticipatory bail plea of Bhupal Sharma, and Kapil Sharma, who have been booked in an FIR registered under Sections of theft, assault, criminal intimidation and rioting of the IPC at PS Block Majri on April 4, 2021.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
Updated: October 24, 2021 3:06:14 am
illegal trees removal chandigarh forest contractorThe petitioners chose to remove the wooden logs during “night” time, despite their being no export permit and a stay granted by the Court, said the Bench while dismissing their anticipatory bail pleas.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court while dismissing anticipatory bail pleas of two, including a forest contractor, for alleged illegal removal of trees in Mirzapur village, Mohali, directed Punjab’s principal chief conservator of forests to get a thorough probe conducted by a committee, into the case of export permit obtained by the contractor.

The Bench of Justice Gurvinder Singh Gill passed the order while hearing the anticipatory bail plea of Bhupal Sharma, and Kapil Sharma, who have been booked in an FIR registered under Sections of theft, assault, criminal intimidation and rioting of the IPC at PS Block Majri on April 4, 2021.

The FIR in question was lodged on the complaint of Divisional Forest Officer ( DFO) Gurmanpreet Singh Bains, pursuant to an information sent by the Forest Range Officer, Siswan, to the effect that despite an order passed by Punjab and Haryana High Court in a writ petition for maintaining ‘status-quo’ regarding cutting of trees and the lifting of wood from trees which had already been cut from the area measuring 16400 Bighas 18 Biswas situated in Mirzapur village, Bhupal Sharma, Kapil Sharma and their associates had removed wood loaded in seven trollies and a pick-up truck at night on April 3, without seeking approval from the Forest Department.

It was further alleged that although officials of the Forest Department had tried to restrain them, they scuffled with the officials and threatened them. The counsel for petitioners submitted before the HC that the forest department officials were demanding illegal gratification, while the two had valid permits.

The Bench of Justice Gill, after hearing the matter, held that the petitioners cannot feign ignorance about the order passed by the High Court, but despite the same, they chose to remove the trees from Mirzapur and the said trees were found in the godown of the petitioner – Kapil Sharma.

The petitioners neither had any valid permit on April 3, 2021, to remove the trees and nor were they supposed to remove the same on account of the order dated March 24, 2021, passed by this Court. The petitioners chose to remove the wooden logs during “night” time, despite their being no export permit and a stay granted by the Court, said the Bench while dismissing their anticipatory bail pleas.

Meanwhile, the high court said that a committee shall examine the procedure adopted in the case in hand for extending the time-limit of the license. The committee will also examine as to why there was no “export permit” in favour of the accused when he was granted permit for removal.

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