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Supreme Court stays Delhi HC contempt proceedings against Centre for failure to publish Draft EIA Notification in regional languages

The Centre has been granted liberty to move the Delhi High Court seeking review of its order to publish the Draft EIA Notification in regional languages.

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today stayed the contempt proceedings before the Delhi High Court against the Centre for its failure to publish the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification of 2020 in regional languages.

In an order passed on June 30, the High Court had asked the Central government to publish the Draft Notification in the languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. While doing so, it had also clarified that the time limit to file the objections to the Notification is August 11, 2020.

This order was passed by a Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan in a petition preferred by Vikrant Tongad. The Centre had subsequently filed a special leave petition before the Supreme Court assailing this order.

With the deadline set out by the High Court for filing objections to the Draft Notification expiring on August 11, a Single Judge Bench of the Delhi High Court that day issued notice to the Centre in a contempt plea moved in relation to the same matter.

The Bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva issued notice after Tongad had alleged "wilful disobedience" and "deliberate defiance" on the part of the Centre in failing to comply with a direction to publish the translated copy of the Draft EIA Notification 2020 to aid its effective dissemination.

Today, a Supreme Court Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian granted liberty to the Centre to withdraw this petition and move the Delhi High Court seeking review of the June 30 order, with the CJI observing that that the Supreme Court agrees with the spirit of the High Court's order.

AS Bopanna, SA Bobde, V Ramasubramanian
AS Bopanna, SA Bobde, V Ramasubramanian

In its order, the Supreme Court said,

"Needless to state that in case the petitioner fails before the High Court, it is permitted to approach this Court once again challenging the main order as well as the order passed in the review petition."

The contempt case was scheduled to be heard by the High Court on August 17. However, the Supreme Court has now stayed these proceedings till the review petition, which will be filed by the Centre, is decided by the High Court. The Supreme Court in its order said,

"The contempt petition shall remain stayed till the disposal of the review petition."

The Centre was represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta while Tongad was represented by Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan.

Read Order:

UOI vs Vikrant Tongad.pdf
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