Supreme Court to hear Ajay Dubey’s application

The Supreme Court will hear on August 29 an application from the head of an NGO, Ajay Dubey, for a direction to restrain the Chief Minister, Cabinet Ministers and senior officers of Madhya Pradesh from giving public statements criticising the order banning tourist activities in core areas of tiger reserves.

A Bench of Justices A.K. Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar has also agreed to hear the Centre’s plea to review the ban order. Several States, NGOs and interested parties filed applications seeking review of the order.

Acting on Mr. Dubey’s petition, the Supreme Court, by an interim order on July 24, had said: “Till the final directions issued by this court with reference to the guidelines submitted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the core zone or core areas in the Tiger Reserve Areas will not be used for tourism.” This order was extended till August 29.

In the present application, Mr. Dubey said that after the interim directions were passed, the core areas in tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh were closed for tourists. However, from the very next day, various Cabinet Ministers, in particular Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, were openly criticising the interim directions through public statements and on public platforms. The petitioner cited the statement released from the Chief Minister’s Secretariat on August 11 to the Department of Public Relations which was later put on the official website of the M.P. government.

“Through this release, the Chief Minister called the decision of the Supreme Court ‘wrong’ and ‘unnatural’ on a public platform. Such irresponsible statements by the Head of the State, particularly when the matter is sub judice, have the effect of diluting the dignity, authority and legitimacy of this court, where the State government is clearly a party and defending its stand on its merits,” the petitioner said.

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