New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday held
that a piece of land does not necessarily need to have
vegetation in order it to be declared a forest land to prevent
any kind of construction work there.
A bench of Justices Mukundakam Sharma and Anil R Dave
said that the term forest should be interpreted in a wider
sense and the presence of rocky area would not debar a piece
of land to be declared as forest land.
"It was submitted that the rocky area devoid of growth
cannot be considered a `forest` and must instead be
understood as a wasteland that cannot vest with the state
government. We are unable to agree with it," the bench said,
adding that the mere presence of a rocky area within a piece
of land cannot change its character.
"It cannot be disputed that within forest areas, there
exists water bodies, swamp land, grass land etc. The very
existence of such land within the forest area would and could
not change the nature and character of the forest land and the
same would still continue to be treated as forest land," the
The court passed the order on a petition filed by
Maharashtra Land Development Corporation challenging the state
government`s decision of declaring a piece of land as forest
The counsel appearing for the corporation submitted
that the meaning of forest must be understood in its ordinary
sense and it would be inconceivable to think of forest land
without trees and shrubbery.
The court, however, dismissed the arguments saying
that a wider interpretation should be given to the definition
of the word forest.