RELEVANCE OF T.N. GODAVARMAN THIRUMALPAD V. UNION OF INDIA and ORS. CASE FOR PROTECTION OF FORESTS

INTRODUCTION

In the case of T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India [WP (Civil) No. 202 of 1995], the Supreme Court left behind the conventional role of an interpreter of the law and took over various roles such as of the administrator, lawmaker and policymaker. This landmark case is also known as ‘the Forest Case in India’. This is because there was a judicial overstepping the constitutional mandate when the Supreme Court took over the matters of this case. It was regarding the control and supervision of the forests of India. T.N. Godavarman lodged a writ petition in the year 1995 in the apex court of India. The main objective of the writ petition was to safeguard and protect the forest land of the Nilgiris as it was exploited through deforestation by unlawful timber activities.

RELEVANCE OF THE CASE

The relevance of T.N. GODAVARMAN THIRUMALPAD V. UNION OF INDIA & ORS. CASE FOR PROTECTION OF FORESTS can be summarized as follows:

  1. The Supreme Court has interpreted and enforced the provisions of Forest Conservation Act 1980 strictly in T.N. Godavarman Thirumalpad v. Union of India. The Court issued sweeping directives to enforce the FCA. All wood-based industries were closed and an embargo was imposed on the exploitation of forest and forest product.
  2. The Court also created Central and State committees to enforce the directions it issued in this case. The court recognized that FCA was enacted with a view to check ecological imbalance caused by rapid deforestation. The court also defined the word forest used in the FCA.
  3. The main highlight of this case was that it was to conserve the forest. It was followed by a hearing at full length regarding the National Forest Policy.  This was regarded as interim directions that were required in relevant matters. This was to check the enforcement and implementation of forest laws and regulation within the subcontinent of India.
  4. The Supreme Court issued directives to use the forest and its resources sustainably. And also told that it should incorporate a self-monitoring mechanism at the same time.
  5. The court stated that an implementation system should be formed at the regional and state level. This was to control the transportation of timber.
  6. The court evaluated and examined the National Forest Policy and the Forest Conservation Act 1980. This was to cover the aspects of deforestation. It also examined the word Forest according to the new definition and is subject to Section 2 of the Forest Conservation Act 1980. This section states that no state government or any other authority can make use of land of the forest for any non-forestry activities through the prior permission of the Central Government. Concerning the new interpretation of Section 2 of the Forest Conservation Act and forest land, it cannot de-reserve safeguarded forest for commercial activities without consent. This means all forest ventures require the permission of the Central Government. For example, activities such as a sawmill, mining and plywood factory can function with the approval of the Central Government.

Therefore, this case had to led to the formulation of different policies and also the occurrence of different actions which helped further all efforts made towards the protection and conservation of the forests.

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