High Court dismisses petitions challenging iron ore export ban

If illegal mining thrives even after these efforts, the State govt is to be blamed

High Court dismisses petitions challenging iron ore export ban

Hearing the petitions by V S Lad and Sons and others challenging the ban, a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice Abdul Nazeer observed that it found no infirmity in the impugned orders or grounds raised by the petitioners.

“We, therefore, hereby uphold the orders dated July 26, 2010, and July 28, 2010. Thus viewed, all the writ petitions are hereby dismissed,” the bench said.

The bench looked into the 13 contentions, including the Mining Act, customs, principles of natural justice and executive powers and other aspects, raised by the petitioners, and found no merit in the writ petitions.

“Despite the fact that we have found no merit in the writ petitions, we are of the view that for maintaining law and order, all necessary measures should be permitted to be adopted without any interference,” the bench said. It observed that the rights of the innocent parties should not be infringed on, as far as it is practically possible.

Impugned orders

“We were satisfied that the impugned orders were passed for the sole aim and object of eradicating illegal activities related to mining, transportation and storage of iron ore,” the Bench observed. Stating that the government order to curb illegal mining is laudable, the bench pointed out that the time taken to introduce regulatory measures cannot be endless.

“If there is an unreasonable extension thereof, by delaying the implementation of the measures, it may have the effect of transgressing into unacceptable terrain. “By a blanket order, without first distinguishing the wrong doers from those who are innocent, the executive government cannot adversely affect the civil rights of all those who are engaged in the export of iron ore for an unlimited period of time,” the bench said in its 221-page judgment.

Maintaining that the law supports only legitimate causes and not an abuse of the process of law, the court said it was legitimate for the State government  to take about six months to put in place the contemplated measures for regulating activities connected with mining of iron ore in Karnataka. “If the aforesaid purpose is achieved, within the time expressed by the learned Advocate General, during the course of hearing, we are of the view that the exercise carried out by the State government may well be reasonable and legitimate,” it said.

Reasonable time

“In case the State government fails to implement the measures within a reasonable time, the intention of the State government may itself be subject to suspicion. “We may also record a note of caution here. The State government having taken such strong steps, cannot hereafter be heard to say, that illegal mining related operations are still going on in Karnataka,” the Bench observed.

The Bench said after the regulatory measures are imposed, the State government should assure the people of Karnataka, and the citizens of India that henceforth no illegal mining related activities are carried out in the State. Disposing of the writ petition, the Bench  said if illegal mining thrives even after these efforts, the State government is to be blamed.

It rejected the petitioners’ contention that the State has no power to issue orders to ban the export of iron ore. “The State can exercise powers under Section 23 C of the Mines and Minerals Act. The State is vested with powers to curtail illegal mining,” the Bench added.

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