Delhi High Court judge Justice Najmi Waziri urged citizens to take charge of the plantation drive in the national capital as the government “cannot do everything alone”. Justice Waziri is famously known as the ‘green judge’ on account of his penchant for lush vegetation and efforts to involve litigants in planting 3.7 lakh trees across the national capital.
Speaking at the farewell ceremony organised for him by the high court on his superannuation, Justice Waziri said in his experience, when there is a scope of healing the wounds and making amends, the best possible way is to direct litigants to do something for the city, its neighbourhood and environment.
“It seemed a more prudent way of utilising people’s money and time than by sending the costs imposed on various parties into various funds where it may lie unutilised for decades to come,” he said.
Among those present at the farewell programme were judges of the Delhi High Court, Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, Justice Waziri’s family members and friends, lawyers and court staff.
“Social justice” has been the “hallmark” of Justice Waziri’s judicial outlook, said Delhi High Court Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma. “I am certain that your work will leave a lasting impact on society. With your services rendered in different capacities, the system has benefitted immensely. Today, you are leaving the system better than you had found it,” Justice Sharma said.
“Not only one life rather multiple generations will breathe easier because you lived,” the chief justice said, referring to Justice Waziri’s efforts for planting trees in Delhi.
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma said Rs 2.38 crore has been escrowed in the Green Delhi Fund, the green account whose money is to be used for further plantation and that Justice Waziri got 3.70 lakh trees planted starting from July 2018 from the southern ridge to the central ridge in the form of ‘Maafi Bagh’ (garden of forgiveness) and ‘Insaaf Bagh’ (garden of justice).
“This is your concern for the environment. There is a whole new ecosystem in place on lands which were lying fallow,” the ASG said, adding that besides being a ‘green judge’, Justice Waziri also pronounced many other important judgments, including on tax laws, arbitration, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) matters and anti-dumping.
In his address, Justice Waziri said that as a judge he had only expected lawyers assisting the court to be well prepared with the facts and law. He advised the members of the bar to “prepare, prepare and prepare” for cases. Justice Waziri said many lawyers came to his court to join the process of greening the city and to do their bit to halt environment degradation.
“Boond boond se hi sagar banta hai. Every single effort, every tree that has been planted here, that has taken root in its soil will count in the years ahead,” he said.
He said it has been a very rewarding effort as 3.7 lakh trees have been planted and 20,000 more are in the process of being planted. “We have enough money for 2.5 lakh more trees to be planted that is already kept in the escrow account,” he said. He added the court has named it ‘Green Delhi Fund’ and that it can go ahead only with the participation of people.
Justice Waziri had set aside guidelines permitting regular pruning of branches of trees with girth upto 15.7 cm without specific prior permission of the Tree Officer. He had once ruled that a tree is a living being and that it must be given a “last look” and accorded a final inspection by the concerned authorities before permission is granted for its felling or extensive pruning.
In the last couple of years, Justice Waziri dealt with several petitions arising from non-compliance of judicial orders on preservation and protection of trees and directed wide-scale afforestation and de-concretization of trees on the road-side. He also recently junked DDA’s proposal to replace the natural green grass at Siri Fort Sports Complex with artificial turf while emphasising that the green area in the midst of a thickly populated residential place is of a far greater value than a faraway forest.