The high court on Tuesday expressed “anguish” at the state government’s decision to create a post to curb the powers of M.A. Sultan, who had been appointed principal chief conservator of forests on the basis of a court order.
“The government should revoke its notification appointing Atanu Raha as principal chief conservator of forests (general) by curtailing the powers of M.A. Sultan, who was made principal chief conservator of forests on the basis of an earlier court order,” observed the division bench of Justice P.K. Roy and Justice H. Tandon.
The observation followed a contempt petition by Sultan. The judges did not pass any order.
Shortly after coming to power in May 2011, the Trinamul government had appointed Raha principal chief conservator of forests, a decision Sultan had challenged in court alleging he had been superseded. On June 17 last year, the division bench headed by Justice Roy had passed an order directing the state to remove Raha from the post and appoint Sultan.
In November, the bench had given the state liberty to create for Raha the post of additional principal conservator of forests, below the rank of principal chief conservator of forests. The state had moved a special leave petition in the Supreme Court against the high court order. The apex court declined to pass a stay.
In February, the state forests minister had issued a notification appointing Raha as principal chief conservator of forests (general) — a post of the same rank as Sultan’s — and handed over most of the administrative powers to him.
Sultan had moved a contempt case against the state in the high court that came up for hearing on Tuesday.