Centre Assures Supreme Court for No Precipitative Action on amended ‘Forest’ Definition Until Further Orders


LI Network

Published on: December 1, 2023 at 12:33 IST

The Centre assured the Supreme Court that it will refrain from taking precipitative action based on the modified definition of forest land outlined in the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act, 2023, until further orders from the court.

The Court was addressing a plea challenging the constitutionality of recent amendments to the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act, 2023.

During the hearing, a bench led by Justice BR Gavai and PS Narasimha recorded the submission of Additional Solicitor General Balbir Singh, who clarified that the amended Act does not intend to diminish the scope of forest as defined in the Supreme Court’s T.N. Godavarman v. Union of India judgment.

Singh informed the Court that exemptions to the definition of forest land would be granted according to guidelines yet to be notified by the Central Government. The guidelines are currently being finalized and will be notified shortly.

The Court documented in its order, “(This is) not the first instance where State of Rajasthan has failed to provide timely assistance to the Court. We have seen so many times where no one has appeared for the State. As of now, we will not say anything except for the Registry to communicate this to the Advocate General.”

The bench was addressing a writ petition filed by a group of retired civil servants, challenging the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act, 2023. The petitioners sought a stay on the legislation, contending that it dilutes the definition of forest and could have adverse implications for the environment, biodiversity, and climate resilience.

The Supreme Court, after recording the Centre’s assurance, posted the matter for further consideration after six weeks.

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