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SC: TN Godavarman ruling

Facts for Prelims (FFP)


Source: Hindustan Times

 Context: The Supreme Court of India has temporarily suspended the implementation of the Van (Sanrakshan Evam Samvardhan) Adhiniyam, 2023, which activists and experts claimed diluted environmental protections for forests.

  • The court’s interim order mandates that the identification of forests should adhere to the “dictionary definition” of forests, in line with a precedent set by a 1996 ruling (the TN Godavarman ruling), which expanded the definition of forests beyond those officially recorded or notified.
  • The establishment of “zoos or safaris” by any government or authority should not be consented to without the final approval of the apex court.


T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad vs Union of India Case (1996), concerned authorities used to apply the provisions of the Act only to the forests notified under the Indian Forest Act of 1927.

As per Judgement “forest” covered include: All areas recorded as “forest” in any government (Union and State) record.

  All areas that conformed to the “dictionary” meaning of forest. Areas identified as “forests” by an expert committee of SC.