SANJEEV COKE MANUFACTURING COMPANY BHARAT COKING COAL LIMITED Vs. BHARAT COKING COAL LTD:SANJEEV COKE MANUFACTURING COMPANY
LAWS(SC)-1982-12-5
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Decided on December 10,1982

BHARAT COKING COAL LIMITED,SANJEEV COKE MANUFACTURING COMPANY Appellant
VERSUS
BHARAT COKING COAL LIMITED,SANJEEV COKE MANUFACTURING COMPANY Respondents

JUDGEMENT

O.CHINNAPPA REDDY - (1.) IN these cases, Sanjeev Coke Manufacturing Co. and Sunil Kumar Ray, representing the Bhowra Coke Company question the nationalisation of the Coke Oven Plants belonging to them.
(2.) THE history of the legislation concerning the take-over of the Management and the Nationalisation of Coal Mines has been set out in some of the earlier judgments of this Court (Tara Prasad Singh v. Union of India), (1980) 3 SCR 1042 and it is not necessary for us to recall here that history in any great detail. THE Coking Coal Mines (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1971, the Coking Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1972, the Coal Mines (Taking Over of Management) Act, 1973, and the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973 were respectively enacted in that order. First came the Coking Coal Mines (Emergency) Provisions Act, 1971 which provided for the taking over of the management of coking coal mines and coke oven plants pending nationalisation of such mines and plants. Section 3 (1) of the Act declared that on and from the appointed day, the management of all coking coal mines shall vest in the Central Government. All coking coal mines which were known to exist were specified in the First Schedule to the Act and Section 3 (2) declared that those were the coking coal mines whose management vested in the Central Government under sub-sec. (1). It was further provided that if any coal mine was found, after investigation made by the Coal Board, to contain coking coal, a declaration to the effect shall be made by the Board and thereupon the management of such mine shall vest in the Central Government and the mine shall be deemed to be included in the First Schedule. The idea clearly was not to leave out of the management of the Central Government any coking coal mine. The words 'mine, 'coking coal mine' and "coke oven plant' were separately defined in the Act. 'Mine' was defined widely enough that 'coking coal mine' would take within its expanse 'coke oven plants' belonging to or in a mine. By the very force of the definition of 'mine', the management of coke oven plants belonging to or in coking coal mines also stood vested in the Central Government from the appointed day. This aspect of the matter will be considered in slightly greater detail when we refer to the provisions of the Coking Coal Mines Nationalisation Act. As one may well expect, there were some coke oven plants which were situated near about coking coal mines but which did not belong to the owners of such mines and the management of which did not, therefore, automatically vest in the Central Government along with the vesting of the management of the coking coal mines. It was apparently thought necessary and desirable that the management of such coke oven plants also should be taken over. Twelve such coke oven plants were identified and specified in the Second Schedule and by Section 7 of the Act the management of the coke oven plants specified in Second Schedule were declared to vest in the Central Government. Next, the Coking Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1972 was enacted "to provide for the acquisition and transfer of the right, title and interest of the owners-of the coking coal mines specified in the First Schedule, and the right, title and interest of the owners of such coke oven plants as are in or about the said coking coal mines with a view to reorganising and reconstructing such mines and plants for the purpose of protecting, conserving and promoting scientific development of the resources of coking coal needed to meet the growing requirements of the iron and steel industry and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto". By Sec. 4 of the Act the right, title and interest of the owners in relation to the coking coal mines specified in the First Schedule stands transferred to and vests absolutely in the Central Government. The First Schedule mentions the names of 214 coking coal mines, with their location and with the names and addresses of the owners of the mines. 'Coking coal mine' is defined by S. 3 (c) to mean "a coal mine in which there exist one or more seams of coking coal, whether exclusively or in addition to any seam of other coal". 'Mine' is, defined by S. 3 (j) to mean "any excavation where any operation for the purpose of searching for or obtaining minerals has been or is being carried on", and to include, among other things, "(vi) all lands, buildings, works, adits, levels, plants, machinery and equipment, vehicles, railways, tramways and sidings belonging to, or in or about, a mine; and (x) all lands, buildings and equipment belonging to, or in, a mine where the washing of coal or manufacture of coke is carried on." We may also notice here the definition of 'Coke oven plant' as in S. 3 (b) which is as follows : 'coke oven plant' means the plant and equipment with which the manufacture of hard coke has been, or is being, carried on, and includes - (i) to (iv) ... (v) all lands, buildings and equipment belonging to the coke oven plant where the washing of coal is carried on, (vi)... " If the definition of 'coke oven plant' in Section 3 (b) is read along side Cls. (vi) and (x) of S. 3 (j) which defines mine, it becomes plain that 'coke oven plant' belonging to or in a mine is treated as comprised in 'mine' as defined. Therefore, all coke oven plants belong to or in the mines mentioned in the First Schedule, by the very force of the definition of 'mine', go with the mines and the right, title and interest thereto vest in the Central Government under S. 4 (1) of the Act. But the object of the Act was not merely to acquire the right, title and interest of the owners of the coking coal mines specified in the First Schedule including the coke oven plants in or belonging to such coking coal mines but also to acquire the right, title and interest of the owners of coke oven plants which were generally, in or about such coking coal mines, even if they did not belong to the owners of such mines. Apparently, it was not thought sufficient to acquire the coke oven plants in the acquired mines or belonging to the owners of the acquired mines but it was thought necessary, also, to acquire the coke oven plants which were near about the acquired mines. So a separate provision had to be made in the Act to acquire such coke oven plants as were near about the acquired mines but did not belong to the owners of the mines. Twelve such coke oven plants, the same twelve coke oven plants which were mentioned in the Second Schedule to the Coking Coal Mines (Emergency Provisions) Act, are again specified in the Second Schedule to the Coking Coal Mines Nationalisation Act too and S. 5 of the Act provides that the right, title and interest of the owners of each of the coke oven plants specified in the Second Schedule, being the coke oven plants which are situated in or about the coking coal mines specified in the First Schedule also vest in the Central Government. Thus, all coke oven plants which belonged to or which were in the mines specified in the First Schedule stood transferred to the Central Government along with those mines and, in addition, the twelve coke oven plants specified in the Second Schedule which did not belong to the mines but which were near about coking coal mines also stood transferred to the Central Government.
(3.) IN order that the ground may straightway be cleared, we must mention here that in Bharat Coking Coal Ltd. v. P. K. Agarwala, (1979) 3 SCC 609. Krishna Iyer and A. P. Sen, JJ. considered the definitions of "Mine" and "coke oven plant" in the Coking Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1972 and expressed the view, wrongly in our opinion, that 'Coking Coal Mine' did not include a 'coke oven plant'. The learned Judges appear to have thought that there was a dichotomy between the word 'mine on the one hand and the words 'coke oven plant' on the other and that was why separate provision was made in the same Act for the nationalisation of mines and coke oven plants. The learned Judges observed : "It must be said in fairness to counsel that there was some bafflement when confronted by these provisions although on a broader, consideration, we are clear in our mind that a dichotomy was made by the statute between mines on the one hand as defined in S. 3 (j) and coke oven plant as defined in S. 3 (b) on the other. To give meaning to this dichotomy one has to read coke oven plants as clearly out from the mines, which in turn means that mere equipment where washing of coal or manufacture of coal is done as a simple subsidiary or an equipment or machinery which is a small part of a mine cannot be exalted to the position of a coke oven plant which, as S. 3 (b) bears out, is an important but separate equipment with which the manufacture of hard coke is carried on. This is a processing of considerable significance, for coal that is extracted from a colliery has an independent existence. It cannot be confused with a minor item such as is covered by S. 3 (j) (xi) or (x) of the Act. It is easy to find industrial similarity when we are. referring to oil mines. It is one thing to take over oil fields and minor machinery or equipment that may be attached thereto necessary for the very mining operation, but by no stretch of imagination can it be said that nationalisation of oil fields or mines also covers oil refineries. IN this view, we think that there is no substance in the submission on behalf of the appellant (Union of INdia) that mine by definition includes coke oven." We are afraid, we are unable to agree the view expressed by Krishna Iyer and A. P. Sen, JJ. that 'coal mine' as defined in S. 3 (j) particularly Cls. (vi) and (x) does not include 'coke oven plant'. As already mentioned by us, there were in existence 'coke oven plants' in or about coking coal mines, some of which belonged to the owners of the mines and some to persons other than the owners of the mines. The object of the Coking Coal Mines, (Nationalisation) Act was to nationalise all coking coal mines and coke oven plants situated in or about the mines whether or not they belonged to the owners of the mines. Those which belonged to the owners of the mines went with the mines but those which did not belong to the owners of the mines, obviously, did not so go with the mines and separate provision had to be made for their nationalisation, and payment of compensation etc. That was the reason for the separate definition of 'coke oven plant' and the separate provision for the nationalisation of certain coke oven plants. The reason was not any dichotomy between the word 'mine on the one hand and the words 'coke oven plant' on the other as was supposed in Bharat Coking Coal Ltd. v. P. K. Agarwala (1979-3 SCC 609). As was said, the separate' definition of coke oven plant and the separate provision for the nationalisation of coke oven plants was necessary to cover those coke oven plants which were situated in or about the nationalised mines but which did not belong to the owners of those mines. It is important to note that all coke oven plants were not nationalised; only those which were situated in or about the nationalised coking coal mines were nationalised. There was no separate legislation providing for the take-over of all coke oven plants but as a part of the legislation to take over coking coal mines, such coke oven plants as were in or about the mines were also nationalised. Quite obviously coke oven plants situated in or about coking coal mines had to be nationalised along with the mines in the interests of convenience and efficiency of the coal industry and to minimise the opportunities for clandestine operations for which the coal industry has become notorious. Coke oven plants away from the mines were not touched either by the Coking Coal (Emergency Provisions) Act or the Coking Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act. The Coking Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1972 was followed soon thereafter by the Coal Mines (Taking Over of Management) Act, 1973. Coal Mine is defined by Sec. 2 (b) of the Act to mean a mine in which there exists one or more seams of coal. It is seen that the definition of coal mines takes in coking coal mines also. Mine is defined by S. 2 (g) in practically the same terms as in S. 3 (j) of the Coking Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act with some differences which are not material for the purposes of this case. Section 3 (1) provides that on and from the appointed day, the managements of all coal mines shall vest in the Central Government. The provision is peremptory; all coal mines whether they are coking coal mines or non-coking coal mines are included; none is excluded, Section 3(2) further provides that the coal mines specified in the schedule to the Act shall be deemed to be the coal mines the management of which shall vest in the Central Government under sub-section (1) and further-that if the existence of any coal mine comes to the knowledge of the Central Government, the Central Government shall make a declaration about the existence of such mine and the management of such coal mine shall thereupon be deemed to vest in the Central Government and the coal mine deemed to be included in the schedule. After the Coal Mines (Taking Over of Management) Act, 1973, came the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973 which was enacted "to provide for the acquisition and transfer of the right, title and interest of the owners in respect of the coal mines specified in the schedule with a view to reorganising and reconstructing such coal mines so as to ensure the rational, coordinated and scientific development and utilisation of coal resources consistent with the growing requirements of the country in order that the ownership and control of such resources are vested in the State and thereby so distributed as best to subserve the common good and for matters connected therewith. or incidental thereto". The expressions 'coal mine' and 'mine' are defined on practically the same lines as in the Coal Mines (Taking Over of Management) Act. Section 3 (1) declares that on the appointed day, the right, title and intetrest of the owners in relation to the coal mines specified in the schedule shall stand transferred to and shall vest absolutely in the Central Government free from all encumbrances. Section 3 (2) provides that if the existence of any other coal mine comes to the knowledge of the Central Government, after the appointed day, the provisions of the Coal Mines (Taking Over of Management) Act shall apply to such mine until that mine is nationalised by an appropriate legislation. We have already mentioned that the expression 'mine' is defined in the Coal Mines (Taking Over of Management) Act and the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act in practically the same terms as in the Coking Coal Mines (Emergency Provisions) Act and the Coking Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act. The definition is so wide, as to take in coke oven plants belonging to or in the mine. So, all coke oven plants belonging to or in a coal mine are nationalised along with the mine. But, there are no provisions in the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973 corresponding to Section 5 and the Second Schedule to the Coking Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1972 to cover coke oven plants which are situated near the coal mines but which do not belong to the owners of the mines. Therefore, coke oven plants not belonging to or in coal mines (not already nationalised, under the Coking Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act are left out of the Coal Mines (Taking over of Management) Act and the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973. Of course, coke oven plants situated away from the mines are not touched by either the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973 or the Coking Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1972.;


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