THOMAS LAWRENCE Vs. STATE OF KERALA
LAWS(SC)-2020-10-41
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Decided on October 29,2020

Thomas Lawrence Appellant
VERSUS
STATE OF KERALA Respondents


Referred Judgements :-

M.K. BALAKRISHNAN VS. UNION OF INDIA [REFERRED TO]


JUDGEMENT

R.F.NARIMAN, J. - (1.)The present appeal arises out of an order of the National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench, New Delhi, dated 06.11.2019, in which the NGT states:
"In view of order dated 14.10.2019 in O.A. No. 71 of 2019, Sanjeev SJ, President, Environmental Protection and Research Council vs. State of Kerala, no separate order is necessary in this matter as the issue raised can be gone into in the course of EIA study in the said matter.

The application is disposed of."

(2.)Mrs. Anitha Shenoy, learned senior advocate, appearing on behalf of the appellant/PIL-Petitioner states that the order dated14.10.2010 dealt with a completely different matter, namely, Original Application No.71 of 2019, which was concerned with a challenge to the environmental clearance granted to one Dragon Stone Reality Private Limited. This clearance was in respect of an area of 9.75 acres of the Veli-Akkulam Wetland. As against this, the present Execution Application No.39 of 2019 arises out of an Original Application No.875 of 2018, which is in respect of violations with regard to 19.73 acres of the Veli-Akkulam Wetland. Thus, the present case concerns itself with an order dated 19.12.2018 of the NGT which reads as follows:
"Allegation in this letter, which has been treated as an application, is that there is mass destruction of Wetlands and 10 acre Pond inside the Technopark Region, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

Let the District Collector, Trivandrum look into the matter and take appropriate action in accordance with law within one month.

Copy of this order along with complaint be sent to the District Collector, Trivandrum by e-mail for compliance.

Needless to say that order of National Green Tribunal is binding as a decree of Court and non-compliance is actionable by way of punitive action including prosecution, in terms of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010.

The application is disposed of."

Learned counsel for the appellant through her written submissions placed reliance on reports of local authorities including the Agricultural Officer, Attipura and Village Officer, Attipura to argue that the land over which the construction was taking place was a wetland and that in view of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2008, the construction would be illegal. She further placed reliance on several orders of this Court, including the Order reported as M.K. Balakrishnan vs. Union of India (2017) 7 SCC 810(2), to show that in view of the embargo on reclamation of wetlands under Rule 4 of the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010, the action of the State in the instant case would be illegal. She further argued that in view of the bar on reclamation of wetlands as described above, the order dated 30.04.2019 passed by the Collector would not be "in accordance with law" as mentioned in the order of the NGT dated 19.12.2018 thereby making the Execution Petition filed by the appellant maintainable.

(3.)This Court was approached as it has been alleged that the District Collector has not taken action in accordance with the order dated 19.12.2018 as a result of which it is necessary to set aside the NGT order and remand the matter for de novo hearing.
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