Mining: HC quashes single judge order

“We must not overlook the basic aim to make India, an industrialised nation. In our considerate opinion, it may not be proper for this Court to exercise power of judicial review conferred under Article 226 of Constitution to quash the notification dated March 15, 2003, even without pleading to that effect,” the bench observed, while hearing an appeal by Jindal Vijayanagara Steel Limited.

The government had notified 36 blocks in the State for mining by a notification dated March 15, 2003, MSPL had approached the HC questioning refusal to grant mining lease. The single judge, Justice D V Shylendra Kumar had asked the government to put on hold all mining leases in forest areas of the State. He had observed that the provisions of Karnataka Forest Act and Forest Conservation Act have been overlooked while issuing the impugned notification. Justice D V Shylendra Kumar, who personally visited the Kumaraswamy Range in Bellary, had said that mining activity should be totally avoided in the forest area and the government should not embark on granting  leases in forest areas.The order said that the a scientific study and conscious evaluation should be carried out before granting licence or mining lease even in non-forest areas.

The division bench, however, terming the order of the single judge as “untenable, illogical and contrary to principles settled by the SC,” observed that despite the fact that the notification has not been questioned by anyone, the single judge has directed the government to cancel mining lease. “This is outside the scope of the writ petition.”
Stating the single judge had directed to cancel the mining lease without giving opportunities to the parties concerned, the Court said that the government had notified the areas for mining after considering the report by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute , which the single judge had overlooked. The matter was pending before the Dharwad circuit bench and the CJ had passed a special order transferring all the cases relating to mining to the principal seat.

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