Kochi | The Kerala High Court today upheld the constitutional validity of a land act, promulgated by the state government in 2003, following which nearly 45,000 acres spread across various districts were notified as ecologically fragile. Challenging the notification of the Ecologically Fragile Land Act, 2003, 56 petitions were filed by land and estate owners in the high court.
Dismissing the petitions, a division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice P R Ramachandra Menon said for determining the claim of each owner, evidence and spot position had to be considered. For such purpose, land owners could approach the custodian of vested forests, who should take a decision within three months. This rider was also applicable to lands notified according to the ordinance promulgated during 20002001, the bench held. Land owners whose lands have been notified after the act have to approach the tribunal, which has to take a decision within six months.
According to provisions of the act, government can take over the land notified as ecologically fragile and such lands will be vested with the government. The question whether lands taken over by government will fall within the category of EFL has to be determined by the custodian of the vested forests and tribunal constituted under the Act.
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