Tuesday, July 3, 2012

BUFFER ZONE CASE JUDGEMENT: FULL TEXT


IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) No. 12125 of 2010

LG, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and others                 … Petitioner(s)
Versus
M/s. Bare Foot Inns and Leisure Pvt. Ltd.                … Respondent

O R D E R

G. S. Singhvi, J.
    
 On 11.5.2012, arguments were heard in  the  context  of  letter  dated 10.5.2012 sent by the Principal  Secretary  (Tribal  Welfare),  Andaman  and Nicobar Administration to the Additional Solicitor  General  and  the  order was reserved.
      In the main petition, the petitioners have questioned the judgment  of the Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court, Circuit Bench at  Port  Blair whereby the appeal preferred by  them  against  the  order  of  the  learned Single  Judge,  who  quashed  notification  dated  30.10.2007  issued  under Section 3(1) of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands  (Protection  of  Aboriginal Tribes), Regulations, 1956 (for short, ‘the 1956 Regulations’) declaring  an area upto five km. radius around the Jarawa Tribal Reserve  as  Buffer  Zone and prohibiting entry in the Buffer Zone of any person other than  a  member of an aboriginal tribe was dismissed.
      Notice in the special  leave  petition  was  issued  on  8.3.2010  and operation of the judgment impugned therein was stayed.
      On 3.12.2010, this Court expressed the view that the petitioners  have not taken steps to implement the notification and directed their counsel  to make a statement on the issue of  closure  of  all  commercial  and  tourist establishments within the Buffer Zone.  Thereafter, several  interim  orders were  passed  by  the  Court  for  ensuring  faithful  compliance   of   the prohibition contained in the notification issued under Section 3(1) of   the 1956 Regulations.
      On 3.2.2012, the Court appointed S/Shri T. S. Doabia, Senior  Advocate and Sanjay Upadhyay, Advocate, whose names were  suggested  by  the  counsel for the parties, as Court Commissioners with the direction that  they  shall visit the Island mentioned  in  the  notification  and  submit  report.   In compliance of the directions given  by  the  Court,  the  two  Commissioners visited the Island and submitted their separate reports. On  23.4.2012,  the Court noted the submission made by learned counsel for the  respondent  that the Commissioners had not focused on the  issue  mentioned  in  order  dated 4.11.2011  and  directed  the  counsel   for   the   petitioners   to   seek comprehensive instructions  on  the  question  of  stopping  commercial  and tourism related activities within the Reserved Area and the Buffer Zone.
        In  compliance  of  the  aforementioned   direction,   the learned Additional Solicitor General produced letter dated 10.5.2012,  the  relevant portions of which are extracted below:
        “This is in continuation to our letter dated 3/5/2012 referred  to above and discussion held today with you, the following  brief  may kindly be placed before the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the hearing of  11/5/2012 as directed by the  Hon'ble  Court  in  its  order  dated  23/4/2012,

1.     No tourist establishment such as resorts, hotels, restaurants, bars and paying guest accommodations except  the  government  run  Guest  Houses will   be permitted    within  the Buffer    Zone.

2.     No commercial establishment/activities which may employ  more  than 20 persons or have annual turnover of Rs. One Crore or more will be allowed in the Buffer Zone.

3.     Visits of tourists during day time  to  Lime  Stone  Cave  and  Mud Volcanoes existing in Baratang Island in the  Buffer  Zone  may  be allowed to be continued.

Yours faithfully,
(Ajai Saxena)
                                       Principal Secretary (Tribal Welfare)”


      Learned counsel for the parties made their submissions mainly  on  the issue of continuance of commercial and  tourism  related  activities  within the Reserved Area and the Buffer Zone.  While Ms.  Indira  Jaising,  learned Additional Solicitor General submitted that till a decision is taken by  the competent authority on the issue of allowing commercial and tourism  related activities within the Buffer Zone,  the  Court  may  permit  the  activities specified in paragraphs 2 and 3 of the letter of  the  Principal  Secretary, Shri S. Ganesh vehemently opposed the continuance of any  such  activity  in
the Reserved Area and the Buffer Zone by pointing out that  the  prohibition contained in Notification dated 30.10.2007 and order dated 6.11.2007  issued by Tehsildar, Ferrargunj is absolute.   Shri  Ganesh  submitted  that  after forced closure of the  respondent’s  resort,  the  petitioners  can  neither undertake  nor  allow  any  commercial  or  tourism  related   activity   in contravention of Notification dated 30.10.2007.
     
We have considered the  respective  submissions.   Notification  dated 30.10.2007 which was challenged before the High Court  and  which  is  under consideration in the special leave petition reads as under:

“EXTRAORDINARY
Published by Authority No. 243, PORT BLAIR,
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2007

ANDAMAN & NICOBAR ADMINISTRATION
Directorate of Tribal Welfare

NOTIFICATION

Port Blair, dated the 30th October, 2007

                 No. 234/2007/F.No. 1-752/2007-TW  -  In  exercise  of  the power conferred by Sub-Section (1) of Section 3 of the Andaman  and Nicobar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes), Regulation, 1956 (Regulation No. 3 of 1956), the Lt. Governor, A  &  N  Islands,  is pleased to declare the area up to five km. radius around the Jarawa Tribal Reserve notified  vide  No.    159/2004/F.No.  1-752/2002-TW (PF) dated 15th September, 2004 from  the  Boundary  Line  starting from Constance Bay in South Andaman to Lewis Inlet  Bay  in  Middle Andaman, as a Buffer Zone.  Any/person other than a  member  of  an aboriginal tribe is prohibited from entering the  Buffer  Zone  for any commercial and/or tourism activities.”

      In our  view,  the  prohibition  contained  in  the  above  reproduced notification and order dated 6.11.2007 passed by  Tehsildar,  Ferrargunj  is unconditional. Therefore,  till the notification is  rescinded  or  amended, no commercial  or  tourism  related  activity  can  be  allowed  within  the Reserved Area or the Buffer Zone and it is not possible  for  the  Court  to approve the suggestions contained in paragraphs 2  and  3  of  letter  dated 10.5.2012 sent by the Principal  Secretary  (Tribal  Welfare),  Andaman  and Nicobar  Administration.   We,  therefore,   direct   that   henceforth   no commercial and tourism related  activities  shall  be  carried  out  by  the administration or any private individual in  violation  of  the  prohibition contained in notification dated 30.10.2007 and order dated 6.11.2007.
      It shall be the duty of the Principal Secretary (Tribal  Welfare)  and other officers of the Administration of Andaman and Nicobar to ensure  total compliance of the prohibition contained  in  notification  dated  30.10.2007 and this order.   Any breach of this order will entail punishment under  the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.

  …..……….....……..….………………….…J.
                                     [G.S. SINGHVI]

                                                    …………..………..….………………….…J.
                                     [SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA]
New Delhi,
July 02, 2012.

1 comment:

DEBKUMAR BHADRA said...

A big SLAP on the face . . .