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SC punishes Mah forest officials for violating order

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, May 10: The Supreme Court today sentenced Maharashtra's former Forest Minister Swaroop Singh Nayak and state Forest Secretary Ashok Khot to one month's simple imprisonment, holding them guilty of the contempt of Court.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal, Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat and Mr Justice S H Kapadia, found the duo guilty of willful and deliberate disobidience of court's order, passed in 1997.

The Court had directed the state government not to renew the licences of Wood and Benial Mills in the forest area and had ordered the closure of all such mills operating in the area, on the grounds that it was damaging the environment.

The two, however, permitted six such mills to operate, in 2004, in violation of the court's order.

The contemner Swaroop Singh Nayak is presently the state Transport Minister while Ashok Khot is posted as Additional Chief Secretary, Maharashtra. The court has noted that contemner Nayak inserted notes in the official file to circumvent the orders of the court. The apex court had ordered the closure of all veneer and plywood mills operating in the reserved forest area of the state in 1997.

The contemners, however, permitted six mills to start their operation in the same area in April 2004, thereby violating the court's order.

Sentencing the accused, the court observed '' this will set an example for those who disregard the orders of the court irrespective of their social and official status.''


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