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Duty of the State to restore the ecological imbalance and stop the damage to nature: SC | India News

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court said Thursday that the state has a duty to restore ecological imbalance and there must be some strict measures that can have a deterrent effect so that offenders think twice before causing harm to nature.
The higher court said that at a time when large-scale damage to nature is being caused, it is of the opinion that offenders cannot be allowed to go free by paying only a fine.
He said that the sand and the mines are public property and that the State that is its custodian must be more sensitive to protect the environment and ecological balance.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah made the observations in the verdict related to the illegal mining of sand in Madhya Pradesh and the interpretation of section 23A of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act of 1957, according to the which crimes under the law can be aggravated by paying the penalty.
The higher court said that since the provisions of section 23A of the MMDR Act are not challenged, the provision stands and leaves the question of paying the penalty for causing harm to nature to the wisdom of the legislatures and states concerned. .
The court said that it is true that by allowing offenders to aggravate the crimes provided for in the MMDR Law, the State will be able to obtain the income and the same will be in the principle that the person who causes the damage must compensate the damage and must have to pay the penalty as the principle of those who pollute pay in case of damage to the environment.
He said that in view of the large-scale damage that is being caused to nature and as observed and sustained by this Court in the 2014 case of GNCTD versus Sanjay, the policy and object of the MMDR Law and Regulation are the result of a greater awareness of the urgent need to restore the serious ecological imbalance and to stop the damage caused to nature.
“When violations like this are on the rise and cause serious damage to nature and the earth and also affect groundwater levels etc. and cause serious damage as observed by this Court in the Sanjay case (2014), they are from the opinion that violators cannot be allowed to go free with the payment of a fine only, “the bank said.
He said that there must be some strict provisions that can have a deterrent effect so that offenders can think twice before committing such crimes and before causing damage to the land and nature.
The bench said that it is the duty of the State to restore the ecological imbalance and curb the damage caused to nature by being excessive in the extraction of sand and gravel from river beds and similar resources that cause the degradation of rivers.
It is also observed that in addition to threatening the bridges, the extraction of sand transforms the river beds into large and deep wells, as a result, the water table drops, leaving the drinking water wells on the embankments of these rivers dry, he added.
The bench said that “even if not, the sand / mines are public property and the State is the custodian of such public property and therefore the State must be more sensitive to protect the environment and ecological balance and protect the public property of the State It is always convenient to be in favor of taking very severe actions against offenders who are creating a serious ecological imbalance and causing damage to nature in any format.
The court held that the magistrate can, in exercise of the powers under article 156 (3) of the order CrPC / order the corresponding police station / SHO to present / register a crime / FIR case even for the contemplated crimes in the MMDR Act.
He argued that at this stage the exclusion under Section 22 of the MMDR Act will not be attracted over any other procedure.
The bar under Section 22 of the MMDR Act will be attracted only when the Magistrate becomes aware of the crimes under the MMDR Act and the Rules issued under it and orders the issuance of a process / summons for the crimes under the MMDR Act. and the Rules dictated by virtue of it, he said.
The highest court ruled that for the commission of the crime foreseen in the IPC, upon receipt of the police report, the competent Magistrate can learn of said crime without waiting for the receipt of the complaint that may be filed by the official authorized to hear in respect of the violation of various provisions of the MMDR Act and the Rules established under it.
The court said that in a case where the offender is allowed to aggravate the offenses by paying a penalty under the provision of Section 23A of the MMDR Act, there will be no further proceedings or proceedings against the offender with respect to those crimes. under the MMDR Act.
However, the exclusion under subsection 2 of Section 23A will not affect any proceeding for crimes under the IPC, such as Sections 379 and 414 IPC and will proceed with the same, he said.

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