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Isha Foundation Exempted From Seeking Prior Environmental Clearance: Centre Tells Madras HC

Upasana Sajeev
27 Sep 2022 4:30 AM GMT
Isha Foundation Exempted From Seeking Prior Environmental Clearance: Centre Tells Madras HC
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The Central Government on Monday informed the Madras High Court that Isha Foundation was exempted from seeking a prior Environment Clearance for carrying out construction work, as the Foundation was engaged in promoting education. The bench of Acting Chief Justice T Raja and Justice D Krishnakumar was dealing with a plea by the Isha Foundation challenging a notice issued by the Tamil...

The Central Government on Monday informed the Madras High Court that Isha Foundation was exempted from seeking a prior Environment Clearance for carrying out construction work, as the Foundation was engaged in promoting education. 

The bench of Acting Chief Justice T Raja and Justice D Krishnakumar was dealing with a plea by the Isha Foundation challenging a notice issued by the Tamil Nadu Government initiating prosecution against the foundation for carrying out construction work between 2006-2014 at Coimbatore, without obtaining mandatory environmental clearance as per the Central Government's Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006. 

Senior Counsel Satish Parasaran appearing for the petitioners submitted that they were carrying out construction activities since 1994, much before the above Rules were framed. 

Additional Solicitor General Shankaranarayanan submitted that the Central Government, in 2014, had clarified that the Educational institutions, sheds, and hostels were exempted from the above rules, in that they were not required to obtain prior clearance while undertaking construction work. These clarifications applied retrospectively and hence the foundation was also exempted from obtaining prior clearance. 

When the court asked the DSP why the Centre was making laws and then itself granting exemptions, he replied that the exemptions were introduced to strike a balance and prevent harassment. 

The court then adjourned the matter to Wednesday and asked the Centre to inform specifically how the Institution would come within the exempted category.

Case Title: Isha Foundation v. Union of India

Case No: WP No. 467 of 2022

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