Madras High Court on Wednesday allowed Isha Foundation’s plea against a show cause notice issued to it for carrying out construction work between 2006-2014 at Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.
The accusation against Isha is that they have not obtained mandatory environmental clearance as per the Central Government’s Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006 claimed the state government.
The foundation was carrying out construction work to promote group development activities and yoga, the Acting Chief Justice T Raja and Justice D Krishnakumar’s bench noted, so it fell under the definition of an educational institution and was therefore exempt from obtaining prior environmental clearance.
The bench further noted that the Madras High Court was not bound by the interim stay imposed by the Kerala High Court because it only applied to matters falling under its purview.
The foundation had previously claimed that all educational institutions, industrial sheds, and dormitories are free from the necessity to seek a mandatory environmental clearance before beginning building work, in accordance with a clarification given by the Central Government in 2014.
Isha Foundation had asserted that as a yoga studio “involved in encouraging mental development,” it would fall within the umbrella of an educational institution.
The government had argued against this claim, claiming that Isha Foundation did not fall under the purview of educational institutions. The state had also argued that, even if the Foundation’s Coimbatore facilities were to be classified as an educational institution, just about 10,000 square metres of those two lakh square metres would fall under that designation.