Karnataka HC issues contempt notice to chief secretary over failure to protect state's lakes

Bangalore, Sept 2 : The Karnataka High Court has issued a contempt notice to the state's Chief Secretary, S. V. Ranganath, for not constituting Lake Protection Committees as directed.

A Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court comprising of Justices Mohan Shantanagoudar and B. Sreenivase Gowda asked Ranganath as to why no action should be initiated as per the Contempt of Court Act, 1971 for not complying with the directions of the court for more than a year after the order was passed.

The notice of contempt was issued on the basis of a civil contempt petition filed by the Environment Support Group against the chief secretary earlier.

It may be recalled that a Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court comprising of Justices K. Sreedhar Rao and B. S. Indrakala in their final directions of April 11, 2012 in a case linked to ESG Lakes.

Then, the court had directed various functionaries of the Karnataka Government and local governments to ensure that District Lake Protection Committees and State Level Apex (Appellate) Lake Protection Committee were set up immediately so that public at large would be able to seek appropriate remedies to stop the widespread encroachment, pollution and destruction of lakes in Karnataka.

"Such a direction was also issued to ensure the public did not have to approach courts and that necessary relief could be secured locally and immediately. The court had affirmed that the detailed guidelines for "Preservation of Lakes in the City of Bangalore" prepared by the court-appointed committee would be binding for survey, protection, rehabilitation and wise use of all lakes and canals across Karnataka, a release from the NGO Environment Support Group (ESG) said.

To ensure that their orders were obeyed, and with due urgency, a specific direction was issued to the chief secretary stating that he "...is directed to comply the above said directions by passing necessary order in accordance with law for ensuring proper preservation, maintenance and development of lakes."

Despite repeated reminders, the chief secretary failed to comply with the high court order to constitute the lake protection committees.

Consequently, a legal notice was served in May 2013 by ESG urging Ranganath to comply with the high court directions, failing which contempt proceedings would be initiated.

When even the legal notice went unheeded, contempt proceedings were instituted resulting in the said direction of the Karnataka High Court.

--ANI (Posted on 02-09-2013)

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