The Madras High Court on Tuesday restrained the Tamil Nadu government from prosecuting the Isha Foundation for having constructed buildings without obtaining environmental clearance between 2006 and 2014.
The court prevented the Coimbatore District Environmental Engineer (DEE) from proceeding further with the prosecution initiated against the foundation.
Acting Chief Justice of Madras High Court, Munishwar Nath Bhandari, and Justice P.D. Adikesavalu passed the interim order on a writ petition filed by the foundation contending that the state government authorities had misconstrued an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification issued in 2014.
Senior advocate C.S. Vaidyanathan representing the Isha foundation contended that the 2014 notification was the extension of an earlier notification issued in 2006 and therefore the exemption given to buildings for educational purposes must be extended from 2006 and not from 2014.
He also said that the State level Environmental Impact Assessment authority was also clear on the issue but the state government officials had tried to prosecute the foundation with mala fide intentions after the recent change of government.
Advocate General R. Shanmugasundaram said that it was the Union government that has to clarify whether the 2014 notification had a retrospective effect from 2006 or not. He also said that prosecution had already been launched by filing a complaint before a magistrates court.
On hearing both sides, the judges ordered notices returnable by two weeks to the state government and central government and asked Additional Solicitor General, R. Sankaranarayanan to ascertain the stand of the centre on the issue by the next hearing.
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