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Indian Government Asks the Supreme Court to Keep Off Environmental Issues

Envirohealth? What is it, seems to ask the government of India. Clearly positing development against environment, it has asked Supreme Court to wind up the so-called Green Bench that sits over environmental issues.

Seeking the vacation of stay on the functioning of the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC), constituted under the Forest Conservation Act, the federal government bluntly asked the court to wind up its Green Bench on the ground that it has outlived its utility and is only hurting the objective of preservation of forests.

The three-judge Green Bench (also called Forest Bench), a significant innovation and traditionally headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI), has passed several landmark judgments, orders and directions for the implementation of the Forest Conservation Act in the last 12 years.

But arguing the Green Bench has been overstepping stepping its boundaries, making governance that much more difficult, the federal ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has asked that it be left alone in preserving the environment.

More often than not, the court has been guided by uninformed activists, it has said in a polemical outburst, couched in surprisingly strong language.

It is indeed an ironical turn of events. While the apex court has been criticized for ignoring the plight of the marginalized, the coalition, headed by that mild-mannered academic-turned-politician Manmohan Singh, is considered one of the weakest in recent history, giving in, as it does, to all kinds of pressures on a whole host of fronts.

But the current drama could make government seem a no-nonsense-executive, determined to have its way, while the court would be seen as the protector of the tribals.

In the affidavit, overflowing with anger, the government says the Green Bench of the apex court has delivered judgments that have only contributed to accentuating poverty, social unrest and a spurt in Naxalit
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