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In a recent case (New Delhi Nature Society v. Shri Vinay Sheel Saxena & Ors.), the Delhi High Court ordered two police officers to plant 100 seedlings after they got into an altercation with a lawyer.

The Court also directed the Delhi police to educate its officers, all the way up to the rank of beat constable, on the necessity of tree protection.

Let the aforementioned police officers plant 100 fruit-bearing trees in the Delhi Armed Police Parade Ground at Kingsway Camp, Delhi, including Pilkhan, Jamun, Amaltas, Goolar, Kat-hal, Badh, Banyan, Kadamb, Kala Sirus, Safed Sirus, Papri, and Maulsari. The Court’s injunction said that every tree had to be at least three years old and at least 10 feet tall.

After accepting their justification and taking into account the fact that they had not yet received a contempt notice, Justice Najmi Waziri went on to release the involved police officers from the ongoing court proceedings.

The event came to the Court’s attention as it was hearing a contempt action brought in 2020 against Public Works Department (PWD) employees over worries about tree damage caused by the civil works they undertook. [1]

The court was informed by advocate Aditya N. Prasad that the two police officers were involved in the altercation after he notified them of the court’s directives to safeguard trees while carrying out construction work. He said that despite this, the questioned building operations were permitted to proceed.

The two officials, according to Additional Standing Counsel Satyakam, had expressed their “sincere regret” over the incident and were prepared to make an apology. He said that officers had a responsibility to uphold law and order and had no intention of disobeying the court’s orders or harbouring animosity towards Prasad. He stated that the two guys had received advice from the Deputy Commissioner of Police.

In light of the apologies, Senior Advocate N Hariharan asked the Court to adjourn the case while also suggesting that officials would benefit from some sort of social work.

After considering this submission, the Court ordered,

To educate police officers about their responsibility to protect trees and to provide prompt assistance to the Tree Officer under section 20 of the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994, Delhi Police shall circulate copies of this order to its entire network, all the way down to the Beat Constable level. This will help prevent future instances of unfavourable altercations with solicitors and civic-minded individuals.

In the 2020 contempt case, the PWD’s continuous concretization work in several sections of the city had damaged trees and other vegetation.

To “safeguard their immutable breathing space,” the Court had previously directed officials including PWD, the Delhi Development Authority, and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to construct reflective bollards for drivers and pedestrians around the trees. [2]

On July 7, the subject will once more be heard.

The petitioner was represented by advocates Aditya N Prasad and Harsh Vardhan.

For GNCTD, advocates Mreganka Kukreja, Shadan Farasat, Anupam Srivastava, and Dhairya Gupta appeared.

For the NDMC, advocates Tushar Sannu, Devvrat Tiwari, and Abhishek Singh appeared.

Senior Advocate N Hariharan made his appearance as amicus curiae.

For additional respondents, advocates Punya Rekha Angara, Siddharth Yadav, Prateek Bhalla, Sharian Mukherji, and Mohammad Qasim were present.

For the police officers, advocate Satyakam made an appearance.

Written by- Himanshu Mishra, a student at St. Mother Teresa Law Degree College, Lucknow, 2nd Semester, an intern under Legal Vidhiya.


[1] BAR AND BENCH, https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/delhi-high-court-cops-plant-100-trees-altercation-lawyer (last visited on June 14, 2023);


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