The Madras High Court on Wednesday ruled that Jaggi Vasudev’s Isha Foundation will be exempted from seeking prior environmental clearance for construction activities, saying it came within the definition of an educational institution, reported Bar and Bench.
A bench of acting Chief Justice T Raja and Justice D Krishnakumar made the observation while quashing a show cause notice issued by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, seeking to prosecute the foundation for having constructed several buildings during 2006 and 2014 in the foothills of Velliangiri in Coimbatore district without obtaining prior environmental clearance.
Isha Foundation had moved the High Court in January, challenging the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board’s notice. It had argued that the Environment Protection Amendment Rules of 2014 granted retrospective exemption to educational institutions.
On September 26, the Centre had told the High Court that Vasudev’s foundation did not need to seek prior environmental clearance for the construction work on grounds of being an institute that promotes education.
The foundation had also argued that it must be categorised as an educational institute since its yoga centre helps develop one’s mental and physical health, reported Bar and Bench.
The judges on Thursday agreed to the submissions, observing that Isha Foundation is promoting yoga as well as group developmental activities. Therefore, the bench said it came under the ambit of “education”.
During the previous hearings, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board had submitted that a yoga centre cannot be considered an educational institution, reported The New Indian Express.
The state government agency had also said that even if Isha Foundation were to be considered an educational institute, it had obtained the Directorate of Town and Country Planning approval for construction in an area of 10,445 square metre but the total construction area was increased to 1.25 lakh square meters between 2006 and 2014.