Kerala

HC takes govt. to task to task on tree-felling case

The Kerala High Court building. File   | Photo Credit: H. Vibhu

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday slammed the State government for not yet arresting the accused in a case relating to cutting and removal of valuable trees from reserved forest under the Meppadi forest range in Wayanad.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice S.Manikumar and Justice Shaji P.Chali made the oral observation when a public interest litigation seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the alleged illegal cutting and removal of trees came up for hearing.

When the petition came up for hearing, the Bench orally observed that the investigation in the case did not seem to be on the right track. The accused had not been arrested as yet. The court asked why the police were reluctant to arrest the accused despite registering 701 cases.

The Advocate General submitted that one of the accused had obtained bail in the case. Besides, the police were not able to effect any arrest due to the pandemic situation.

The court said the police could not delay arresting the other accused saying one of the accused was out on bail. It showed the lethargic attitude of the police and any delay in arresting the accused might lead to destruction of evidence.

The court also directed the State government to file an affidavit in this regard.

According to the petitioner, a section of revenue and forest officials and politicians of the ruling front conspired with the timber mafia for the illegal act. They even used the lockdown as an additional cover to cut and transport valuable trees from private land and forestland.

The investigation by the police was only an eyewash. There would not be a fair investigation as government officials were also involved in the case. If the State agency continued with the investigation, there was every possibility of tampering with the evidence.


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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 10:20:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/hc-takes-govt-to-task/article35565591.ece

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