The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to consider amending the Official Languages Act to allow publication of official notifications in languages other than English and Hindi.
The court made this suggestion in the context of a case regarding the publishing of the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification in 22 languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. The Delhi High Court had on 12 August asked the Centre to reply to a petition seeking contempt action against it for not publishing the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification, 2020, in 22 Indian languages, The Print reported.
A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde verbally remarked to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, "Your government should consider amendment of the Official Languages Act. These days, translation is the easiest thing on Earth. We translate judgments, Parliament has instant translation software. It is time for you to update your Act."
The court also said that that the Delhi High Court's order was in the "correct spirit."
The Supreme Court, however, stayed a contempt petition related to the case and asked the Centre to file a review petition in the Delhi High Court.
Background of the case
On 30 June, the Delhi High Court had directed the Centre to ensure that the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2020 is published in all the 22 languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution within 10 days. The court had also extended the time granted to the general public to give their suggestions for the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020 till 11 August.
The bench said the translation may be undertaken by the Centre itself or with the assistance of the state governments, where applicable.
"Such translations should also be published through the website of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India as well as on websites of environment ministries of all states as well as those of state pollution control boards, within 10 days from today," the court said in its order dated June 30, which was made available on Wednesday.
The bench said publishing the translated versions within 10 days "would further enable the public to respond to the draft within the period stipulated in this judgment".
Subsequently, a contempt plea was filed by environmentalist Vikrant Tongad which alleged that the ministry neither published the translated versions of the draft EIA nor sought more time from the court on this regard.
On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court had asked the Centre to reply to the contempt plea. The Centre's appeal in the Supreme Court had challenged this order.
With inputs from agencies