CENTRE APPROACHES DELHI HIGH COURT TO REVIEW ORDER TO PUBLISH DRAFT ENVIRONMENT RULES IN 22 LANGUAGES2 min read

By- Khushi Yadav

The Centre has moved a plea in the Delhi High Court (DHC) seeking review of its order to publish the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) in 22 languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India. The plea said that the official documents are required to be published in Hindi and English only and also, that the law does not require notifications to be published in local languages.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan on Friday issued notice to the environmentalists, on whose plea the Delhi High Court had issued the direction, and sought his response by September 23.
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, appearing for the Environment Ministry, claimed that the court was ‘misled’ by the petitioner into passing the June 30 judgment, which had extended till August 11 the date for giving comments and objections to the draft EIA.

The Bench directed that the notification be published in all the 22 languages within 10 days of the verdict.

The June 30 order had come on the plea moved by environmental conservationist Vikrant Tongad.
The Centre had on July 28 moved an appeal before the Supreme Court against the high court decision. However, on August 6, Vikrant moved a plea seeking contempt action against the Environment Ministry for non-compliance with the June 30 order.
The plea was withdrawn after the Supreme Court, on August 13, asked the Centre to first seek a review of the decision of the High Court.

The Supreme Court also put on hold on contempt proceedings against the ministry till its review plea as disposed off.

The Plea said, “The Present Petition is being preferred only to the extent that this court has directed that respondent/applicant (ministry) to make all arrangements for the translation of the draft EIA notification 2020 into various languages and at least the languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.”

The ministry has said, “Issuance of notifications in multiple languages would, in any case, result in translation and interpretation issues resulting in the meaning of words being obfuscated and often even lost.”

It has also claimed that the June 30 order of the High Court “suffers from error apparent on the face of the record”, as it did not consider that neither the Official Languages Act of 1963 nor the Environment Protection Rules require that the draft notifications have to be issued in any other languages other than Hindi and English.

“The draft notification proposes significant changes to the existing regime, including removing public consultation entirely in certain instances, reducing the time for public consultation from 45 days to 40 days, and allowing post facto approvals for projects,” the plea further said.

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