Criminal proceedings against 10 quasi-judicial officers and a scientist with the state environmental impact assessment authority for purportedly according an environmental clearance to a 350-MW power project in Maval tehsil, Pune, were stayed by the Bombay high court on Wednesday.
The locals, who opposed the project proposed by Hindustan Electricity Generation Company, had filed a criminal complaint against the company officials in a magistrate court at Maval on January 13.
Later they added PMA Hakeem, then chairman of the state expert appraisal committee and its seven members, Asoke Basak, then chairman of the state environmental impact assessment authority, one of its members and a scientist.
The state government moved the HC after the judicial magistrate at Vadgaon-Maval issued summons to the company officials, the quasi-judicial authorities, and the scientist.
Advocate-general Ravi Kadam pointed out no proceedings could be filed against either chairman, member of the authority or any other person under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. Kadam pointed out that the criminal proceeding was based on misconception of facts that the environmental clearance was granted for the power project when the proposal was only under consideration.
He said that the authority had merely sought compliance reports from the state expert appraisal committee, but locals mistook the communication for environmental clearance and filed a complaint. A division bench of justice PV Hardas and justice MN Gilani issued a notice to the complainant organisation, Navlakh Umbre Paryavaran Parisar Vikas Sangh.