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the Supreme Court ordered the continuation of the Central Empowered Committee (cec) on September 7. In doing so, the court struck down the centre's appeal to scrap the cec.
"The cec will continue until further orders and all facilities and infrastructure extended to it will continue," a bench
headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and also comprising justices Arijit Pasayat and S H Kapadia, ruled.
cec had been constituted in 2002 under the orders of the apex court to assist the court and to implement and monitor all matters related to projects in and around forest areas. The committee's five-year term was about to come to an end on September 17. Senior advocate and amicus curae Harish Salve had filed an application seeking extension of cec's term.In its reply, the Union ministry of environment and forests had said "Central government is not agreeable to the extension of the said notification (constituting the cec) since the cec was never meant to be an agency appointed under Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986." Solicitor general G E Vahanvati argued in court that under the section, cec had been given sweeping powers. The bench then asked him to quote cases where the cec had overstepped its mandate.
Vahanvati replied that he had no problems with the continuation of cec under the apex court's orders but not under the provisions of the act. The bench observed that he was "anticipating" a problem which was not there and that the system had worked fine for the past five years. The bench has given the government four weeks to come up with suggestions but ruled that cec would continue in its existing form.