D.V. Grish V.S. State Of Karnataka
The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 was implemented to protect our wild animals, birds and plants. A Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been set up to curb illegal trade or smuggling of endangered species in the country. Under Article 51(g), the Constitution of India also guarantees the protection of wildlife and compassion for living creatures. In addition to this, Article 48 also puts an obligation on the state to protect, safeguard and work for the improvement of forests and wildlife in the country judge.
- Whether the plaintiffs prove that the suit schedule property is a part of the Bhadra Wild Life Sanctuary, which is a reserve forest land?
- Whether the plaintiffs prove that 2nd defendant has continued the construction work in gross violation of the provisions of the Central Act of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980?
- Whether the suit is not maintainable as contended in para 6 of the written statement?
- Whether the plaintiffs are entitled for the reliefs as sought for?
- What Order or Decree?
By constructing a tourist camp the Respondents were in violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, which provides that without prior approval of the Central Government there cannot be any use of forest land for non-forest purposes.
Section 2 of the Act reads as follows:
Restriction on the de-reservation of forests or use of forest land for non-forest purpose.― notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force in a State, no State RSA.No.89/2015 Government or other authority shall make, except with the prior approval of the Central Government, any order directing.―
(i) that any reserved forest (within the meaning of the expression “reserved forest” in any law for the time being in force in that State) or any portion thereof, shall cease to be reserved;
(ii) that any forest land or any portion thereof may be used for any non-forest purpose;
(iii) that any forest land or any portion thereof may be assigned by way of lease or otherwise to any private person or to any authority, corporation, agency or any other organization not owned, managed or controlled by Government
D.V. GIRISH (a coffee planter and wildlife conservationist from Chikmagalur), SRI GIRIJASHANKAR (editor and publisher), SRI MANISHKUMAR (coffee planter and businessmen) and G.VEERESH appellants are concerned with the construction work of a tourist camp called Muthodi Nature Camp on the Property which falls in Sy. No. 226 and 228 of Srivase village, Jagara Hobli of Chikmagalur. This property is in the core of the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary in the Western Ghats and has been declared as reserve forest.
The Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary has a substantial tiger population and was declared as the 25th Project of Tiger in 1998. Suit properties were part of Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary forest lands. Defendant No.2- the Deputy Conservator of Forest, Bhadra Wildlife Division has RSA.No.89/2015 proposed to put up structures for promoting Muthodi Nature Camp in Muthodi, allegedly for development of eco-tourism in Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary. Proposed work consists of building construction, electrification by laying high tension lines, clearing of the forests. Such work can’t be undertaken without prior approval of the Central Government as required under Section 2 of the forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 (‘the Act’ for short). No such approval is taken by the defendants. Therefore, plaintiffs seek declaration that suit schedule properties were part of Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary which is reserve forest land, permanent injunction restraining defendant No.2 from taking up proposed project and for mandatory injunction for restoration of the suit schedule properties in case, any structure was already put up.
Commissioner, Department of Tourism, Government of Karnataka sent for approval of the project bearing cost of Rs.92.92 lakhs. Proposal was sent to the Government also. It upheld one of the directive principles of State Policy – “safeguard the forests and wild life of the country” (Article 48A of the Constitution). One of the fundamental duties of every citizen of India is to protect and improve forests (Article 51-A Clause (g)). So clearance of forest area should be allowed only as a stark exception. When Parliament insisted that such clearance can be made only with the prior permission of Central Government the rule should be rigorously followed. Forest wealth is already an endangered bounty of nature. The Trial Judge held that the construction conducted by Muthodi Nature Camp came under Explanation (b) of Section 2 of the Act, i.e., ‘forest related activities’ and therefore could be undertaken without the approval of the Central Government.
- Gurnam Singh v. Lehna Singh[AIR 2019 SC 374]
- Union of India v. Kamath Holiday Resorts Pvt. Ltd.[(1996) 1 SCC 774]
- Jairaj A.P. v. The Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Thiruvananthapuram & ors [AIR 1996 Ker 362]
- Ishwar Dass Jain v. Sohan Lal[(2000) 1 SCC 434]
- M/s Gateway Hotels and Gateway Resorts Limited, Bangalore v. Nagarahole RSA.No.89/2015 Budakattu Hakku Sthapana Samithi, Virajpet, Coorg District & Ors[1997 SCC Online Kar 219]