The Kerala High Court has awarded punishment to the state government for its laxity in implementing an earlier order. While hearing a case on the alleged inaction by the Department of Kerala Industry, the court ordered the department to plant 100 trees in the state as punishment.
Justice Amit Rawal issued the order on Friday while hearing a case dating back to 2017. The case is based on a petition filed by SS Chemicals, a chemical manufacturing company in Kollam district.
The company had approached the Industries Department with a petition, seeking tax exemption. According to reports, the department was set to hear the petition in 2016, but it did not happen. The company then approached the Kerala High Court in 2017. The court sought action in this regard from the department during a few hearings. However, it has been three years since the case reached the court, and the department is yet to respond to the court’s order.
On Friday, K Biju, the director of Kerala Industry department, was directed to appear in the court for the hearing.
According to Asianet, when the petitioners pointed out that no action was taken in the matter, Justice Amit said that a particular amount will be deducted from Biju’s salary. When the counsel opposed, the court then directed him to do social service at a leprosy hospital in the state. The counsel then claimed that there are no leprosy cases in the state — although over 180 new leprosy cases were recently detected — and hence there are no such hospitals. It was then that the judge directed the official to plant 100 trees.
The judge said that the state Forest Department will suggest the spots where the saplings have to be planted. The official has also been reportedly directed to give an explanation for the inaction in the case.
There have been several verdicts in the past where the offenders, mostly common citizens, have been directed to plant trees, take up community service and even distribute copies of the Quran. TNM had earlier reported that there are no laws or guidelines to streamline such directives, which are often given out per the discretion of the judge.