Draft EIA: SC rejects Centre challenge to Delhi HC translation order

The high court heard a petition asking the Centre to print the draft EIA notification in 22 languages mentioned in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution
Draft EIA: SC rejects Centre challenge to Delhi HC translation order

The Supreme Court, August 13, 2020, rejected the Centre's petition challenging a Delhi High Court order to print the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020 notification in 22 languages.

The Delhi High Court, June 30, heard a petition ordering the Centre to print the draft EIA notification in the languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.

The court gave the Centre 10 days to carry out this order. The government, however, has not complied so far, leading to a contempt petition in the Delhi High Court. The Centre subsequently approached the Supreme Court July 28, challenging the high court order.

“The Supreme Court today rejected the government’s appeal without even issuing a notice,” said Prince Issac, a lawyer involved with the case. The apex court directed the government to publish the draft EIA notification, according to Issac.

“The court observed there was no legal obligation to print the notification in regional languages,” said Vishal Sinha, another lawyer involved with the case. The people of Karnataka, rural Maharashtra, Nagaland, etc, will not be able to understand it, the Supreme Court said, according to Sinha.

The draft EIA notification was published in the Union Environment, Forests and Climate Change’s official websites only in English and Hindi, with no publication of the notification in any regional or local-level newspapers.

After several representations to the MoEF&CC, the deadline for inviting objections from citizens was arbitrarily extended to June 30, 2020. The writ petition was subsequently filed by Vikrant Tongad in the Delhi High Court, leading the court to extend the notice period up to August 11.

A writ petition was filed before the Karnataka High Court as well, which stayed the publication of the notification till the next hearing on September 7.

“The stand of the government on the translation of the notification in regional languages has been ambiguous. In the second hearing, they said they already told the state governments to start the translation, but in the third hearing, they said the government was not obliged to translate,” Sinha had said.

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