The Centre on Monday told the Madras High Court that Jaggi Vasudev’s Isha Foundation did not need to seek prior environmental clearance for the construction work it carried out at its premises in Coimbatore between 2006 and 2014, Bar and Bench reported.
In January, the Tamil Nadu administration had initiated prosecution against the non-government organisation, alleging that it had started construction work without obtaining clearance under the Centre’s Environment Impact Assessment Notification of 2006.
Isha Foundation had challenged the prosecution before the High Court, submitting that the Environment Protection Amendment Rules of 2014 granted retrospective exemption to educational institutions.
Additional Solicitor General R Sankarnarayanan, representing the Centre, told the High Court that Isha Foundation could claim the exemption on grounds of being an institute that promotes education. Sankarnarayanan said that the purpose behind the exemption was to prevent harassment and to “strike a balance”.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice T Raja and Justice D Krishna Kumar posted the matter for further hearing on Wednesday.
On January 11, the High Court had restrained the Coimbatore District Environmental Engineer from proceeding with the prosecution against the Isha Foundation, The Hindu reported.
At that time, CS Vaidyanathan, counsel for the Isha Foundation, had claimed that the State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority was also clear about the provision giving an exemption to certain categories of establishments, including educational institutions.
However, Advocate General R Shunmugasundaram had said that it was up to the Centre to decide whether the 2014 Rules could have a retrospective effect from 2006.