Politicians not above law: Bombay HC tells cops to book Sena, BJP corporators who encroached on mangroves

Politicians not above law: Bombay HC tells cops to book Sena, BJP corporators who encroached on mangroves 1
Bombay HC directed cops to book the corporators for violations under the Environment Protection Act (Representational Image, Courtesy: Mumbai Mangroves Blog)

Observing that politicians were not above the law, the Bombay High Court on Thursday directed Maharashtra police to book two local corporators from BJP and Shiv Sena for encroaching on mangroves.

The bench of Justices SC Dharamadhikari and Bharati Dangre directed the Mira Road police station to book Parshuram Mhatre of BJP and Anita Patil of Shiv Sena within a week for violations under the Environment Protection Act.

“Political leaders are not above the law. They are not God or someone who can claim a right to be in contravention of laws. Why is the municipal corporation and the local police afraid of initiating action against the offenders? You must be bold and must not fear anyone” the bench was quoted saying.

The remark was made while the bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by activist Bharat Mokal through his lawyer DS Mhaiskar.

In the plea, Mokal alleged that both corporators had cut mangroves and encroached on them while constructing their residential bungalows and offices.

It further said that in March 2016, the local tehsildar had filed an inspection report of the concerned site and named the above persons, along with four others, as offenders of mangrove destruction and encroachment.

Related: Don’t cut any trees in Mumbai, Thane till further orders: Bombay HC

The petitioner told the court that he registered a police complaint against them the same year, but the cops had yet to take any action against them due to their political clout.

In its defense, the police told the court that it needed more time to study the relevant provisions of the Environment Protection Act before booking the offenders.

The bench, however, dismissed the reason and asked them to book the accused under Sections 17 and 18 of the Act, which clearly states that all offenders are liable to be punished.

It also told the officials to approach the court in case a political member tries to undermine their authority or obstruct them from discharging their duties.

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