ANI Photo | SC puts on hold Madras HC order staying Joint Select Committee proceedings on amendment to Forest Conservation Act

The Supreme Court on Friday put on hold an interim order passed by the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court staying a press communique issued to invite suggestions/objections from public to the proposed amendment to the Forest (Conservation) Act and further proceedings of the Joint Select Committee (JSC) of Parliament examining the 2023 Amendment Bill.
Both, the Bill and the press notice inviting suggestions/objections from the public were stayed because they were in English and Hindi and not in any of the vernacular languages including Tamil.
A vacation bench of Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Pankaj Mithal stayed the May 24, 2023, order of the High Court order.
The apex court stated the order while recording the Centre’s statement that the Tamil translation of the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill will be uploaded on the official website and after the Tamil version of the Bill is uploaded on the official website, people will be given seven days’ time to give their suggestions/objections.
The Tamil version of the amendment bill will be uploaded by June 5, the bench was informed.
The top court also issued notice on the Centre’s plea challenging the High Court order.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the central government sought a stay on the High Court order saying that both the Bill and the press communique were published in English and Hindi as both are the official languages of the parliament.
However, there was a problem and the government will solve it by publishing the Forest (Conversation) Amendment Bill in Tamil, the senior law officer told the bench.
He further contended that the High Court could not have interfered with the proceedings of the JSC or the orders passed by it.
The Joint Select Committee of Parliament comprises members both from the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
On May 24, High Court ordered the interim stay of the press communique and all further proceedings.
The High Court’s interim order had come on a public interest plea filed by an advocate G Theeran Thirumurugan stating that the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023, and the press communique have been published in English and Hindi only and put to disadvantage people from making suggestions who are not familiar with the two languages.
He had sought the publication of both the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill and the press communique in Tamil and other vernacular languages.
The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 which was introduced in Lok Sabha on March 29, 2023, seeks to add and exempt certain types of land from the purview of the Act and it expands the list of activities permitted to be carried out on forest land.

This report is filed by ANI news service.

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