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Justice Lalit recuses from hearing Braj area pond renovation plea

By Oneindia Staff Writer

Supreme Court judge U U Lalit recused himself from hearing a matter relating to renovation work of ponds in the Braj area of the pilgrimage town Govardhan in Uttar Pradesh.

Supreme Court judge U U Lalit

"I cannot hear this," said Justice Lalit while giving the reason that before becoming a judge of the Supreme Court , he had given some opinion as a lawyer to one of the parties in the case.

Justice Lalit was sitting with Justice Deepak Gupta in a vacation bench.

Now, the matter will be listed before another bench.

The issue concerns an appeal filed by NGO Braj Foundation which has challenged the National Green Tribunal's (NGT) order dismissing its plea to continue with renovation work of ponds in Braj area.

On June 1, the court had stayed the operation of the NGT's May 24 order and issued notices to the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government on the plea.

In its appeal, the NGO said that due to orders of the green tribunal, the ponds, renovated by it, faced demolition.

In its petition through chairman Vineet Narain, Braj Foundation challenged the NGT's order which had junked its plea to continue with the work on the ground that renovation project should be taken up by the government.

The green tribunal had said that no "private individual, organisation, NGO or any other body" should undertake the work of preservation and restoration of water bodies.

Prior to this, the NGT had on August 4, 2015 declared the entire "Parikrama Marg" as a no-construction zone to avoid any encroachment and had asked the civic bodies to construct a sewerage system along the holy area.

The NGT had passed several orders on a petition alleging that renovation work had been done without following due procedure in the Govardhan area.

Due to the NGT's order, the local authorities had stayed the restoration work being undertaken by the foundation at Sankarshan Kund in Anyor and Rudra Kund in Jatipura, the NGO said.

The plea in the top court said that the tribunal has "grievously erred" in its order and denied it the opportunity to place documents on record which were related to the case.

It has contended that the NGT exceeded its jurisdiction and adjudicated a matter that fell within the jurisdiction of the appropriate civil court.

The green panel had earlier ordered the Mathura district magistrate to conduct an inquiry into how two former village heads had awarded renovation work of ponds without following legal procedures in the pilgrimage town.

It had said that neither any meeting nor any resolution was passed to renovate the Sankarshan Kund in Anyor and Rudra Kund in Jatipura.

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