Lawyer Brings Up Billy Joel Song In Forest Fire Case, Judge's Smooth Reply

The Supreme Court was hearing a petition flagging the forest fires in Uttarakhand

Lawyer Brings Up Billy Joel Song In Forest Fire Case, Judge's Smooth Reply

The Supreme Court was hearing a petition related to forest fires in Uttarakhand

New Delhi:

Depending on the rain god and cloud seeding are not the answer and the government needs to take effective steps, the Supreme Court said today while hearing a petition flagging forest fires in Uttarakhand.

Senior Advocate Rajiv Dutta, an environment activist and a petitioner in the case, expressed concern over the forest fires and sought urgent directions to state authorities to contain them.

The petitioner argued that he had approached the National Green Tribunal on the issue and it had issued directions to the Uttarakhand government two years back, but no action was taken.

In its defence, the state government listed the steps it has taken to tackle the situation. It said that only 0.1 per cent of the wildlife cover in the hill state was on fire.

The state government's counsel, Deputy Advocate General Jatinder Kumar Sethi, said they have recorded 398 incidents of forest fires and registered more than 350 cases in this connection. About 62 people have been identified and attempts are on to identify 298 others, the lawyer added.

Mr Sethi also pointed out that the phenomena of forest fires was not new to Uttarakhand and that the forest department deals with such fires every summer. He said there were long-term and short-term plans in place and they were scrupulously followed.

The petitioner argued that the situation is more serious than how the state government was describing it. Justice Gavai then asked the Uttarakhand government if the Central Empowered Committee can be involved. The bench also pointed to visuals of forest fires published in the media.

"We cannot be depending on the rain god and on cloud seeding," Justice Mehta said, adding that the government has to take proactive preventive measures. The matter will be heard next on May 15.

A Musical Courtroom Exchange

Amid heated arguments and counter-arguments in the Uttarakhand forest fires case, the Supreme Court witnessed some light moments today, thanks to an exchange between Justice Mehta and petitioner-in-person Rajiv Dutta. Addressing the bench, Mr Dutta said, "There is a popular song, 'we didn't start the fire'." He was referring to the 1989 hit number from US singer Billy Joel's Storm Front album. In a smooth reply, Justice Mehta said, "There is also one called, 'what goes around comes around'." The reference was to Justin Timberlake's song from his 2006 album, FutureSex/LoveSounds.