The Delhi High Court has directed two city police officials to plant 100 fruit bearing trees after they got into an altercation with a lawyer over protecting trees from damage due to an ongoing civil work by a government agency.
Justice Najmi Waziri, who was hearing a contempt case against several city officials for violation of judicial orders on conservation of trees here, directed the Delhi Police to circulate the present order in order to sensitise the police personnel of their duty to protect trees and avoid such “undesirable altercations” and to render prompt assistance to the Tree Officer under the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994.
Taking note of the sincere regrets expressed by the two police personnel, the judge discharged them from the contempt proceedings but asked the officials to carry out the plantation drive at the Delhi Armed Police Parade Ground at Kingsway Camp while ensuring that each tree has a minimum nursery life of three years and a height of at least 10 feet.
“In view of the above, let 100 fruit bearing trees like Pilkhan, Jamun, Amaltas, Goolar, Kathal, Badh, Banyan, Kadamb, Kala Sirus, Safed Sirus, Papri and Maulsari, etc. be planted at the Delhi Armed Police Parade Ground, Kingsway Camp, Delhi by the said police officers,” said the court in an order passed on May 29.
“To obviate repeat of such undesirable altercations with lawyers and public-spirited citizens, Delhi Police shall circulate copies of this order to its entire network, right up to the beat constable level, so as to sensitise the police personnel of their duty to protect trees and to render prompt assistance to the Tree Officer under section 20 of the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994,” the court directed.
The counsel for the petitioner New Delhi Nature Society, advocate Aditya N Prasad, told the court that in February 2021, an altercation took place between him and the additional SHO and SHO concerned, when he told them that certain trees were to be protected by the police from damage due to the ongoing construction work at the site in Lodhi Colony area.
The SHO concerned said it was assumed that since a government agency was carrying out the work, it must have been authorised.
Delhi government counsel said the officers have been cautioned by the DCP concerned and they have tendered their sincere apology to the lawyer.
He added that the police officers are duty bound to maintain law and order and there was no ill-intention on their behalf.
Senior advocate N Hariharan, the amicus curiae, said the matter may be closed in view of the apology but the police officials should be burdened with some social work, such as plantation of trees, as they caused some degree of unease to an advocate, who is an officer of the court, and much judicial time has been expended in the various hearings of this case.