Chennai: The Madras High Court Monday took a serious view of a government advocate unable to answer certain queries while it was hearing a batch of pleas challenging the land acquisition for the Chennai-Salem greenfield highway project.Also Read - Tamil Nadu Lockdown Update: Devotees Barred From Entering 22 Temples in Madurai till This Date | Full List Here

The advocate was not able to answer certain queries towards “illegal” felling of 109 trees near the site of the proposed project. Also Read - Centre Urges States to Impose Lockdown-like Restrictions in Districts Reporting Positivity Rate Above 10%

A division bench of Justices T S Sivagnanam and Bhavani Subbaroyan orally observed, “The government is insensitive towards the issue….”. Also Read - Tamil Nadu Lockdown Update: Govt Extends Restrictions Till August 9, Check What’s Allowed, What’s Not

When the advocate was unable to answer on the status of anticipatory bail applications moved by the accused who felled the trees, the court said, “If you do not have instruction, please do not come to the court”.

Referring to the installation of unauthorised digital banners in the city, reportedly with the pictures of special government pleader C Thirumaran, in connection with the recently concluded ‘MGR centenary celebrations’, the bench observed, “How can a law officer of this court flout its own orders? We cannot give an audience to such a law officer.

“Whoever may have appointed him? But once, he enters the office of a law officer, he should maintain the dignity of the post,” it said.

Since Thirumaran was not present in court during the hearing, the bench asked the government advocate to inform him about the court’s observation.

The government advocate immediately sought instructions from the police department and informed the court that of the five persons, accused of illegal tree felling, two were absconding.

Recording the submission, the bench wondered whether the accused were “cross-border terrorists or ordinary woodcutters”.

Noting that there was something fishy in the entire incident of tree felling, the court said it would ultimately find out the truth.

The forest department informed the court that over 500 saplings have been planted in the site where 109 trees were cut down and 500 more would be planted soon.

Noting that it was the duty of the department to take good care of the saplings, the bench posted the pleas to Tuesday for further hearing.

The court had on August 21 restrained the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government from dispossessing people of their lands to be acquired for the project, which has run into opposition from some quarters including a section of farmers, till further orders.

The petitioners have challenged the land acquisition for the Rs 10,000 crore project.