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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 13 July, 2022

  • 8 Min Read

DECRIMINALISATION OF INDIAN FOREST ACT 1927

DECRIMINALISATION OF INDIAN FOREST ACT 1927

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has proposed a public notice for decriminalization of the Indian Forest Act, 1927.

Key points

Ministry is undertaking a review of the act to decriminalize minor sections of the law which include:

  • Carrying timber into the forest,
  • Trespassing by cattle,
  • Felling a tree,
  • Felling or damaging a tree reserved under a special provision of the law,
  • Kindling a fire or carrying fire in forest areas.

Amendment proposed

  • It focuses on decriminalization if a relatively minor violation of the law takes place.
  • Fast resolution through the compounding of relatively smaller offences.
  • Reducing compliance burden on the citizens.
  • Rationalisation of penalties and preventing harassment of citizens.
  • Ministry seek to replace the provision of imprisonment for six months and a fine of Rs 500.
  • Section 30 and 26 of the Indian Forest Act,1927 are to be amended
    • Section 30: Fall any tree or drag any timber so as to damage any tree reserved or permit cattle to damage any such tree under section 30 shall be punishable with a fine that may be extended to Rs 500.

The clause of imprisonment up to six months for these offences has been removed

  • The penalties will be collected under the Environment Relief Fund and only in the case of non-payment of penalty will the violator be prosecuted.

Power of the Central Government

  • The Center does not have any power or jurisprudence to carry out amendments in the Act, as it does not fall under the Central Government as the act was enacted before the parliament has been established.
  • The Act is adopted by the states as they feel fit, only Haryana, Punjab, Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar follow the act. Other states have their own forest act which they follow.

Significance

  • It will help to ease the difficulties faced in differentiating between major and minor offences.
  • It will also deter habitual offenders from committing more crimes, as at present there is the same level of punishment for both first-time and repeat offenders.

Criticism

  • It might go on incentivizing offence, especially that of felling trees which is extremely dangerous.
  • It does not clarify and promotes ambiguity whether the Rs 500 fine is the cost of feeling one tree or it is an entire forest can be felled.
  • A move by the Centre is an infringement on the right of the states.

Indian forest act 1927

  • It set a legal framework for the protection and management of forests, transit of forest produces and timber and duty that can be levied on forest products and timber.
  • Indian forest act is the umbrella act which provides the basic architecture for the management of forests in the country.
  • The act also includes a mechanism to ensure notification of reserved, protected and village forests, protection of forest resources, forest biodiversity and wildlife of the country.

Source: The Indian Express


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