SC Dismisses Petition Challenging Kasturirangan, Gadgil Committee Reports, & MoEF Draft Notification on Western Ghats

Supreme Court Law Insider

Priyanka Singh

Published on: 13 September 2022 at 18:15 IST

In a recent case of the Supreme Court, the bench comprising Chief Justice UU Lalit and Justice Ravindra Bhat dismissed a PIL that challenged the Draft Notification published by the Central Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, defining an area of 55 as the “Western Ghats Ecologically Sensitive Area“.

The PIL was filed by an NGO based in Kerala, Karshaka Shabdam (Voice of Farmers), alleging that the notification in question, dated 03.10.2018, violated the right to life and livelihood of the farmers guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. This brought CJI Lalit to question the delay in challenging the notification, to which the petitioners stated that they contacted the stakeholders and the process took time. This, however, failed to convince the Chief Justice of India.

Background –

October, 2018:  The MoEF had issued a notification which demarcated an area of 56,825 which is spread across six states viz. Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu as the Western Ghats Ecologically Sensitive Area, based on the Kasturirangan Committee Reports and the Gadgil Committee Report.

The petitioner submitted that on one hand, these reports served the purpose of preservation of the Western Ghats; on the other hand, they had neglected essential factors such as population, practical displacement, etc. and that the MoEF notification was intended to ‘disrupt lives and discouraging agriculture in the State’.

The petition gave the following reasons for not implementing the Gadgil Committee reports:

  • There is no space to displace people from one place to another within the state.
  • Large groups of people depend completely on agriculture, and the banning of cultivation of several crops will affect their livelihood.
  • Multiple villages produce small-scale industrial products that are only produced due to the nature of the topography.

Along this, the petition pressed that ‘land’, being a subject under the State List of the Constitution of India, should not be “surrendered” to the authority of the Central Government.

The Court dismissed the writ petition, stating that the petition had been an objection to the latest draft notification dated June 6, 2022, and that the final notification is yet to be issued. Considering these facts, we do not find any reason to exercise our jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. The instant writ petition is, therefore, dismissed,” the Court stated.

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