The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ordered an interim stay on the press communique issued by the Centre inviting suggestions on the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023, in either English or Hindi.
A Division Bench of Justices M.S. Ramesh and P.T. Asha ordered the interim stay of the press communique and all further proceedings. The court ordered notice to the Centre and sought response from the authorities.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation petition filed by advocate G. Theeran Thirumurugan of Ramanathapuram district, who sought a direction to the Centre to upload Tamil copy of the Bill on the website and receive suggestions on the Bill in vernacular languages, including Tamil.
The court observed that the Bill proposed many crucial amendments to the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, which would have wider implications. While the endeavour of the authorities in calling for suggestions from the public was laudable, it could be rendered futile if the notification seeking suggestions did not reach those who were not familiar with either English or Hindi.
Thus, if the Amendment Bill or the press communique was not made available in vernacular languages other than English and Hindi, the object behind calling for suggestions from the public could be defeated, the court observed.
“Though it is not our desire to stall an important Amendment Bill, we are constrained to put it on hold for some time for the government to explore the possibilities of publishing translated copies of the Amendment Bill as well as press communique in all the vernacular languages of the country,” the court observed.