The Delhi High Court has restrained the Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) from taking any coercive action against the vice principal of a government school, who was fined Rs 4.2 lakh and directed to plant 50 trees for allegedly cutting or pruning eight dry trees inside the school campus.
The petitioner, who was currently serving as head of the school in the absence of principal, said he has preferred an appeal before the Principal Secretary (Environment and Forest), Delhi Government, which is the appellate authority and the demand for fine is being enforced even before he could seek the relief in his appeal.
Justice Yashwant Varma said, “Pending further consideration on the writ petition and taking into account the contention of the petitioner that the felling of trees was undertaken with due permission and intimation to the Public Works Department, the court provides that the respondents shall stand restrained from taking any coercive action against the petitioner till the next date of listing. List again on November 3.”
The court allowed the prayer of advocate Arun Panwar, appearing for the vice principal, to implead the appellate authority as a party respondent.
It asked the counsel for the Delhi government to obtain instructions from the appellate authority on or before the next date of hearing.
The petition said that in September 2020, a meeting of the school management committee took place in which a decision for pruning and cutting of trees, which are dried up, was taken. It said those trees were withered and have been eaten by termites and have become dangerous for children studying in the schools, teachers and for the safety of the school building.
The plea said that a request letter was sent to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest for inspection and pruning of trees to avoid any untoward incident in the school. However, no response was received from the authorities.
Thereafter, in December 2020, a tehsildar came to the school and completed the pruning work and deposited the wood at a cremation ground here, it said.
The plea said that in January 2021, a notice was received alleging that the school principal has committed an offence by damaging and cutting the trees on the school campus.
It said the petitioner received several other notices and in the one received in February this year, the DCF claimed that he has committed an offence by damaging and cutting eight dry trees and pruning 18 other trees on the school campus.
On March 3, 2022, the petitioner received the order of February 25, whereby without considering his reply, the order was passed which directed him to plant 50 trees of minimum height of six feet. Also vide that order, the petitioner was directed to deposit Rs 4.2 lakh with the DCF (North) within 30 days of receipt of the order, the plea said, adding the petitioner has challenged the order before the appellate authority.
With PTI inputs