Hearing a public interest litigation petition that sought a direction to the Centre and the State to upload a Tamil copy of the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023, on the official website and also receive suggestions in Tamil, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has granted the petitioner a week’s time to submit memorandum/suggestions to the committee in Tamil.
A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice T. Raja and Justice L. Victoria Gowri ordered notice to the Centre and the State and posted the case for disposal by a week.
The petitioner, G. Theeran Thirumurugan said that the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill was introduced to amend the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. According to many environmental enthusiasts and activists, the Amendment Bill attempts to minimise the extent of forest lands that fall within the scope of the Forest Conservation Act.
There are many crucial amendments proposed through the Amendment Bill which impact the rights of the people. The Amendment Bill is published only in English and it could deprive the people of the right to know about the legislation.
The Amendment Bill should also be published in Tamil. Though Tamil translations would be made by environment enthusiast organisations, it will not reflect the intent of the legislature and unofficial translations may lead to misinterpretation of several provisions, he said.
Referring to a press communique issued by the Centre, he said that the authorities had invited suggestions either in English or Hindi. The rights of the non Hindi speaking population to express their suggestions had been denied, he said. Suggestions should also be received in Tamil. He said that he had made a representation to the authorities. However, it was not considered, the petitioner said.