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Two judges constituting a bench of the Bombay High Court Monday withdrew themselves from the hearing on the Lavasa Corporation Limited’s plea challenging the union environment and forests ministry’s decision to put a stop to its construction project near Pune.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice S.J. Kathawala, which was hearing the case till now, Monday took the decision to withdraw from the hearing.

Chief Justice Shah informed the lawyers that he was not in a position to hear the matter as one of his relatives worked with a law firm which was advising Lavasa Corporation on its forthcoming public issue.

The hearing will now resume only after the chief justice assigns the case to another bench.

The union environment ministry Nov 25 slapped a show-cause notice on Lavasa Corporation allegedly because it had failed to secure necessary environmental clearance before starting work on its 5000-plus hectare Lake City project coming up in Mulshi sub-district of Pune, around 200 km from Mumbai.

The central government also ordered stop to construction work at the site till the Lavasa Coproration replied to the show-cause notice.

The project has been opposed by local villagers, led by activist Medha Patkar and others.

The bar on construction by the environment ministry provoked union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to slam the ministry and say wanton invocation of the environment laws would discourage foreign investors in the country’s projects.

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