Saturday, September 8, 2007


In a severe setback to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Supreme Court extended the term of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) till further orders. The Ministry of Environment and Forests in its affidavit stated that it was not in favour of retired as well as serving officers continuing in the CEC. The Solicitor General representing the Ministry of Environment and Forests, stated that the powers given to the CEC were such wide that it would give rise to misuse of powers to which Justice Arijit Pasayat asked the Solicitor General to state instances where the CEC has misused its powers, to which the SG had no explanation. The Supreme Court stated that the CEC is needed in order to assist it in deciding forest matters and therefore the Court is free to continue with the CEC and if the MoEF does not extend the tenure by issuing a notification under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the Supreme Court can surely do it.

Harish Salve, Amicus Curiae stated that the short point of the submission of the MoEF is that the CEC has become a nuisance for the Government. According to the MoEF, the Ministry has sufficient trained scientific and trained officials who are there to render expert advise and that it is capable of ensuring implementation of the orders of the Court. It therefore submitted that ‘further continuation of the CEC under Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 is no longer required.

Finally, the Court while extending the term of the CEC indefinitely directed that if there are any issues with respect to the some terms and condition, the same may be sorted out through a meeting of the Amicus Curiae and the Solicitor General.
Forest Case Update
Ritwick Dutta and Kanchi Kohli
Coordinating addresses: E-180, Greater Kailash 2, New Delhi-110048 and C-106, Sector 40, Noida, Uttar Pradesh

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