High Court criticises three law students for seeking publicity even before their petition was heard

Criticising three law students for approaching the media for publicity before the court took up their PIL petition, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday declined to stop the public hearing taken up through video conference mode on the draft Environment Impact Assessment/Environment Management Plan for the eight-lane Peripheral Ring Road (PRR) project of the BDA.

However, the court said that the process of appraisal, to be taken up by the State Level Expert Appraisal Committee based on the EIA, and outcome of the public hearing, as envisaged in the procedure prescribed for granting environmental clearances by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2006, should not be undertaken for the PRR project until further orders.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S. Kinagi passed the interim order on the petition filed by Anushka Gupta of Bengaluru, and P.B. Shashaank and Pratik Kumar, both based in New Delhi.

The petitioners had questioned the correctness of the decision of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board to conducting a public hearing on September 23 through video conferencing. They sought a direction from the court to the authorities to conduct a physical hearing.

The bench declined to stop the public hearing through video conferencing as the public hearing had commenced before the court took up the petition for hearing.

Told to explain conduct

Deprecating the practice of going to the media before a petition is taken up by courts even though there is no law to stop such a practice, the bench asked the petitioner-students to explain going to the media before their petition was heard by the court.

As the petitioners had not produced a key document in support of their contentions, the bench observed that the petitioners, being law students, were not aware of materials to be produced in court but were aware of getting publicity through media.

When their advocate said several petitions are being published in media much before even the apex court takes them up for hearing and contended that petitioner-students have not gone to the media, the bench asked the petitioners to give their views on the practice of seeking publicity about a petition even before it is heard by a court.

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