Rishav Ranjan, a law student and one of the petitioners, on Monday thanked Supreme Court for directing the Maharashtra government to ensure that no trees are further axed at Mumbai's Aarey Colony.
"We appealed to the Supreme Court through our letter-cum-petition for taking cognizance. We are thankful to the Supreme Court that they took cognizance in this matter. The Supreme Court has put a stay on all activities in that area in Aarey forest and it has said to maintain status-quo and stop clearing of trees. It has told the Maharashtra government that no further clearing of trees should be done," Rishav told here.
"In this situation, this is a big relief, but it is a long battle ahead because there are many petitions," he added.
A Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Ashok Bhushan directed the state government to maintain the status quo and said it would further hear all the petitions in the matter on October 21.
The court passed the directive after hearing a suo moto PIL based on a letter written by a group of law students to the court against the felling of trees.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta assured the bench that no trees will be further cut in the Aarey Colony. He also told the court that the people who were arrested for protesting against Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) action were released.
The court also asked Mehta to include the Ministry of Forest and Environment as a party in the matter.
On Sunday, the court received a letter by the students' group against the axing of trees in the Aarey forest, decided to pursue it as public interest litigation (PIL) and constituted a "special bench" to hear the matter.
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) started axing the trees on Friday night after the Bombay High Court rejected a bunch of petitions filed by NGOs and activists against the tree felling. Resolved to save the trees, many protestors gathered at the site to raise their voice against the felling of trees. Later, more people joined the protestors near the Aarey colony area, where the Mumbai Police imposed Section 144, thereby banning unlawful assembly.
The police had held at least 84 protestors for allegedly disturbing public order and obstructing government officials from performing their duties. Twenty-nine out of 84 protestors were sent to five-day judicial custody by a local court on Saturday. The 29 protestors were granted bail on Sunday by Dindoshi court on a cash bond of Rs 7,000 each and asked to appear at the police station for further inquiry.
( With inputs from ANI )