The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday asked the Karnataka State Highways Improvement Project (KSHIP) of the Public Works Department to come out with alternative ways to widen certain stretches of State Highways in Tumkur division so that all 4,153 trees identified need not be cut.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice B.V. Nagarathna issued the direction while hearing a public interest litigation petition initiated suo motu by the court based on a letter written by Arun Kumar G. from Tumkur complaining about felling of 4,153 trees in the division. The court in July last year had restrained tree felling.
“We do not like to come in the way of a development programme. But at the same time, it [development] should not be at the cost of environment. How can you replace old trees? You have not even submitted applications before the tree authority. Submit them first. Also, come out with an alternative plan to save as many trees as possible,” the Bench orally observed.
“You will also have to allocate money for environment management plan before taking up the project plan,” it observed while adjourning further hearing.
Court-appointed amicus curiae, advocate H. Srinivas Rao, had submitted his report indicating that some stretches of the state highways in this division will witness very less traffic movement and some stretches could be widened without cutting large number of trees.
‘IT camp office’
The High Court on Wednesday said that Section 131(1A) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, does not invest an IT official to set up a camp office at the residence of a person for the purpose of collecting evidence or investigation.
Justice Rammohan Reddy made this observation while disposing of a petition filed by Prakash V. Sanghvi, a resident of Mangalore. The petitioner had questioned the conduct of an Assistant Director of Income Tax (Investigation), Mangalore. The petitioner pointed out that the officer, G. Ramesh, had gained entry to the house in the guise of a salesman and later set up his camp office, from where the officer issued summons to the petitioner for production of certain documents and evidences.
It was also complained in the petition that the officer, “without any regard to privacy of women present in the house, searched every nook and corner of the house” without the help of any woman officer from the department.
While expressing displeasure over the manner in which the officer conducted himself, the court asked the department why it could not use women officers as the police department did in such cases.