Centre’s approval must to reserve mining land: SC

Centre’s approval must to reserve mining land: SC

supreme court

The Supreme Court has held that a state government cannot reserve land for mining without approval from the Union government.

“The state government being the owner of the land and minerals, has a right to make a proposal to the Central government to reserve lands not held under a prospecting licence or mining lease for exploitation by the state government companies or undertakings but approval of the Central government is necessary,” a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.

The top court also said the Union government cannot be bound by any specific parameters and each case has to be decided on its own merit.

“The central government can not only take into consideration factors of national security or public interest but also economic factors, the policy of the government and all such other factors which are relevant to decide the issue whether the land should be reserved for exploitation only by state government undertakings,” the bench said.

The apex court clarified the legal position after analysing provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act, 1957. It set aside a Karnataka High Court judgement of April 3, 2012. The high court had allowed a writ petition filed by Hutti Gold Mines Co Ltd. The Karnataka government had recommended reserving the land in its favour.

The Union government had then rejected the state government’s request. It had noted Geomysore Services (India) Pvt Ltd and Deccan Gold Exploration Services Pvt Ltd had completed their reconnaissance permit in Hutti South Belt Gold Mines area and applied for seamless transition to prospecting licence, so the proposal of the state government to reserve the land in favour of HGML was neither in public interest nor in terms of the National Mineral Policy, 2008.

The court approved the Union government’s decision and directed the Karnataka government to consider Geomysore and Deccan for grant of prospecting licence in accordance with the provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act, 1957 as they stood amended in the year 2015.