The Hon’ble Bombay High Court on Friday (7th May 2021) in an interim order restrained the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (hereinafter referred to as “MoEF”) from granting any permission or clearance order to any project, based on recently notified office memorandum which allows the ex-post facto approval of projects that have not yet obtained the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) clearance.
The order is in response to the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Vanashakti challenging the recent office memorandum issued by MoEF. While hearing the plea, a division bench comprising of Hon’ble Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Hon’ble Justice GS Kulkarni observed, “In our prima facie view, contents of the under-challenge office memorandum have the potential of diluting the rigours of the provisions of the Environment Act and other related enactments.”
Additionally, the Hon’ble Court referred to the landmark judgment, Alembic Pharmaceutical Limited vs Rohit Prajapati, given by the Hon’ble Supreme Court. It was held that the concept of ‘ex post facto’ Environmental Clearance is clearly against the essential principles of environmental jurisprudence.
Stalin Dayanand Banerjee, director of the NGO, argued that the office memorandum is issued without following any procedure under the Environment Protection Act and is ultra vires of Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ), 2011. Also, the concerned memorandum passed in a hurry without any due public notice as it is not an emergency measure under the Alembic judgment.
Hence, after hearing the arguments from both sides, the Hon’ble Court ordered, “In such view of the matter, we restrain the respondents from granting any clearance/ permission based on the under-challenge office memorandum till the date of 31st August 2021, or until further orders, whichever is earlier.”