Written By- Pretika Tiwari
While hearing the case, Kisan Vitthal Kadam and Anr vs The State of Maharashtra and Anr., the Bombay High Court pulled up the Deputy Conservator of Forests of Sangli district, Maharashtra, for intimidating the petitioner, with legal action, for filing a complaint against the Department of Forests’s failure to comply with the Lokayukta’s orders.
In 2017, the petitioner approached the Lokayukta, complaining that they had not been allotted an alternate land. Lokayukta closed the complaint after concluding that the appropriate steps have been taken by the forest department to allot the land within the proposed time frame. The petitioners issued a legal notice to the State authorities after waiting three years. The Forest Department responded by claiming that the Lokayukta’s order had been followed. The petitioners were also warned not to file grievances against their department in the answer.
The Hon’ble Bench of Justices PB Varale and SD Kulkarni made serious statements against the State department personnel. The Court stated, “We see no justifiable reason for such action to a citizen by a Department of the State Government. The Department of the State Government could have informed the citizen or the Petitioners as to his demands are satisfied but then a warning to a citizen of some action for raising grievance is not at all expected from the Department of the State Government.” The Court did not mince words when it came to the tone of the communication. “We are surprised to see the tenor of the communication. The communication is of the year 2021 and the Department of Forests, Deputy Conservator of Forests was bold enough to firstly submit that there was no delay and secondly, if there was some delay, the delay is not resulting either in monetary loss or any mental or physical stress to the petitioners,” the Court said. The Court granted two weeks of time to the department, on a request by the Additional Government Pleader RS Pawar. And it also cautioned that if there are no positive actions towards the same then the Secretary of the Forest Department and the Revenue Department would be summoned for a personal explanation to the Court.
Advocates Ranjit Shinde and Ketan Shinde appeared on behalf of the petitioner.