A Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan (in Delhi High Court) issued a notice today, in an application given as a part of Vikrant Tongad v. Union of India, seeking a direction to further extend the deadline by 60 days to submit objections to the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2020.
While disposing of Tongad’s petition, the Court had granted the Centre time till July 10, 2020 to publish the Draft EIA Notification 2020 in the languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution (ASG Chetan Sharma appeared for Centre). The Court had then ordered that the time limit to file the objections to the Draft EIA Notification 2020 was up to August 11, 2020.
Earlier this month, the petitioner had moved a contempt plea with respect to the non-translation of the Draft Notification. The proceedings in the contempt plea were, however, stayed by the Supreme Court.
Senior Advocate Gopal Shankarnarayanan appearing for the Petitioner moved the instant application in view of the fact that while the deadline for the submissions of objections was over, the translated copies of the notification were yet to be uploaded on the official websites. The Court was informed that the Draft Notification was made available on the homepage of the main website of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) only on August 24. The same was not uploaded, even in the English and Hindi languages, on the websites of the State Environment Departments and State Pollution Control Boards. The petitioner further stated,
“As the deadline for receiving public comments has lapsed as on 11th August 2020, an anomalous situation has been created throughout the country wherein speakers of vernacular languages will not be allowed to respond to the draft Notification, while English and Hindi speakers have got a total time of 120 days to respond to the draft notification. It is submitted that this anomalous situation has arbitrariness writ large over it, and negates the very letter and spirit of the order of this Hon’ble Court dated 30.6.2020.”
A prayer is thus made to modify the earlier order on the extension of the deadline for submission of objections. The matter will be heard next on September 23.