SC puts on hold Madras HC order staying proceedings on changes to Forest Conservation Act
3 June, 2023 | Vaishali Sharma
The Supreme Court on Friday stayed an interim order issued by the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court to invite suggestions/objections from the public to the proposed amendment to the Forest (Co...
The Supreme Court on Friday stayed an interim order issued by the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court to invite suggestions/objections from the public to the proposed amendment to the Forest (Conservation) Act, as well as further proceedings of Parliament’s Joint Select Committee (JSC) examining the 2023 Amendment Bill.
Both the Bill and the press notice inviting public suggestions/objections were stayed because they were written in English and Hindi and not in any vernacular language, including Tamil. The High Court order of May 24, 2023, was stayed by a vacation bench of Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Pankaj Mithal.
The order was issued while the Supreme Court was recording the Centre’s statement that the Tamil translation of the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill will be uploaded on the official website, and that after the Tamil version of the Bill is uploaded on the official website, people will have seven days to submit suggestions/objections.
The bench was informed that the Tamil version of the amendment bill would be uploaded by June 5.
The Supreme Court also issued a notice in response to the Centre’s petition challenging the High Court order.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the central government, requested a stay of the High Court order, claiming that both the Bill and the press release were published in both English and Hindi, the official languages of the parliament.
However, there was a problem, which the government will resolve by publishing the Forest (Conversation) Amendment Bill in Tamil, according to the senior law officer.
He also contended that the High Court could not have interfered with the JSC’s proceedings or orders.
Members of the Joint Select Committee of Parliament are drawn from both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
On May 24, the High Court ordered an interim stay of the press conference and all subsequent proceedings.
The High Court issued the interim order in response to a public interest petition filed by advocate G Theeran Thirumurugan, who claimed that the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023, and the press communique were only published in English and Hindi, discouraging people unfamiliar with the two languages from making suggestions.
He had requested that both the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill and the press communique be published in Tamil and other vernacular languages.