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  • Writer's pictureThe Economic Times

Trees must be inspected before permission given for pruning, felling: Delhi HC

Trees depicting a case represented by AnantLaw Environement and Sustainability featured in national news by The Economic Times

This news report was authored and published by The Economic Times on 14 June 2023. It Covers a case represented by AnantLaw.

The Delhi High Court has set aside the guidelines permitting regular pruning of tree branches with girth up to 15.7 cm without prior permission and also ordered that no trimming would be permitted except in accordance with the law. Noting that there were "glaring examples of misuse of the generous permission" to prune trees having a girth up to 15.7 cm, Justice Najmi Waziri said this "so-called permission" under the guidelines sought to over-reach the statute which lays down the manner for pruning of trees.

"A tree is a living being. It must be given, at least a 'last look' and accorded a final inspection before a decision is taken to permit its felling or sanctioning extensive amputation of its live branches," said the court in its order passed recently.

"Under the Act (Delhi Preservation of Trees Act) there is no sanction for the 15.7 cm girth of a tree branch to be cut.. The Guidelines, are in conflict with the DPT Act, they are arbitrary and illegal. Therefore, the Guidelines permitting regular pruning of branches of trees with girth up to 15.7 cm without specific prior permission of the Tree Officer are hereby set aside. In view of the above, no pruning of trees will be permitted in Delhi except in accordance with the DPT Act," stated the court.

In its order passed on a petition challenging an NGT order permitting pruning of trees as per the guidelines - called the "Guidelines for Pruning of Trees" dated October 1, 2019, the court stated that it would be open to the authorities to frame fresh requisite guidelines to regulate pruning of trees.

The guidelines were framed under the Delhi Preservation of Trees Rules, 1996.

Advt Advocate Aditya N Prasad was appointed as amicus curiae in the matter.

The court observed that the sole objective of the DPT Act was preservation of trees and the granting of permission for cutting, girdling, lopping, pollarding, etc. of trees was to be strictly regulated.

"Section 8 of the Act prohibits felling of trees in Delhi, except by express prior permission of the Tree Officer. Under the Act, permission for felling, cutting or removal of the trees is granted by the Tree Officer on an application made under section 9," noted the court.

"Yet the Guidelines permit cutting/pruning of branches of trees having a girth/circumference up to 15.7 cms. How did this figure come about? What is the scientific basis for reaching that figure? What is the scientific basis for reaching that figure? What is the justification for applying the same thickness of branches to all species of trees in Delhi?" questioned the court.

It further said at times rare species of trees may be sought to be felled or it may be a "solitary" tree, in which case the responsibility of protecting and nurturing the "solitary tree is far greater upon the authorities concerned".

The court also asserted that there should be no denial of natural justice in proceedings initiated before the tree officer and asked the Delhi government to arrange refresher training courses on conducting hearings through hybrid mode, e-filing of petitions, replies, etc., for the benefit of tree officers and other officers, at the Delhi Judicial Academy, within four weeks.

Client: Prof. Dr. Sanjeev Bagai, Padam Shree
Prof. Dr. Sanjeev Bagai & Ors. v. Department of Environment, Government of NCT of Delhi & Ors.

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