Delhi HC Issues Notice in Centre’s Review Petition in the Draft EIA Notification 2020

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The Delhi High Court issued a notice in the Central Government’s review petition. This was against the order directing it to publish the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification- 2020 in regional languages. (Vikrant Tongad v. Union of India).

Brief Facts

Vikram Tongad had filed a petition to ensure a meaningful consultation around the Draft EIA Notification -2020. The Division Bench had passed an order to direct the Central Government. The direction was to publish the Draft Notification in the languages mentioned in the Constitution. The languages were under the Eighth Schedule. This was about to get published on the website of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and other related sites.

Contentions

The Central Government (CG) sought a review of this direction. The CG had contended that the order suffers from errors apparent on the face of the record. It was submitted that the direction to translate the Draft Notification does not consider the provisions of Part XVII. It particularly does not consider Article 343 of the Constitution. Article 343 expressly provides that the official language of the Union of India shall be Hindi in Devanagari script. In terms of Article 343(3), Parliament had provided that English shall continue to be used for official purposes of the Union, in addition to Hindi.

All Notifications, Draft Notifications, and other official documents were to be in English and Hindi language. The union has especially issued this notification. There was no mandate which required the issuance of such documents in any other vernacular language.

Central Government had further argued with reference to the Official Language Act, 1963. It argued with reference to the Environmental (Protection) Rules as well. They do not need the Draft EIA Notification to get issued in any language other than Hindi and English. The CG had apprehended on the translation and interpretation of the Draft Notification. It stated that it might result in the “meaning of the words being obfuscated and even lost.” This would result in “massive hurdles” in the performance of legislative and administrative functions by setting a precedent.

Court’s Decision

A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan was set up. Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma appeared for Central Government. Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan represented Tongad.

Earlier this week, the Court had noticed in Tongad’s application seeking a direction to further extend the deadline to submit objections to the Draft EIA Notification 2020. The next hearing is on September 23.


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