Decided on January 20,2021

Khajuraho Stones (India) Pvt. Ltd. Appellant


MOHAMMAD RAFIQ,C.J. - (1.) This writ petition has been filed by petitioner M/s Khajuraho Stones (India) Pvt. Ltd. challenging the show cause notice dated 05.12.2020 (Annexure P-1) issued by the Collector, District Chhatarpur in Case No.0200/A-67/Minerals/2020-21 and also challenging the report dated 04.11.2020 (Annexure P-2) submitted by the Mines Inspector, District Chhatarpur and Panchnama dated 30.10.2020 (Annexure P-3) prepared by the officials of the Mines and Revenue Departments.
(2.) The factual matrix of the case, as emerging from the pleadings of the writ petition, is that the petitioner is holding a mining lease in respect of land admeasuring 4.000 Hectares comprising in Khasra No.357 in Mouza Ghoora, Tehsil Rajnagar, District Chhatarpur. The respondents, on receiving complaint against the petitioner for illegal and unauthorised excavation of minerals outside the leasehold area, got an inspection conducted jointly by the representatives of the Mines and Revenue Departments. A panchnama of the inspection was prepared on 30.10.2020 (Annexure P-3). According to the panchnama, the inspection was carried out in the presence of certain villagers under the supervision of Sub-Divisional Officer (Revenue) Rajnagar. At the time of inspection, the Sub-Divisional Officer, Rajnagar, Mines Inspector, Chhatarpur, Naib Tehsildar, Chandranagar, Revenue Inspector, Chandranagar, Revenue Inspector (Mines), Patwari of Halka Badarwaha, Patwari of Halka Salaiya and Patwari of Halka Rajgarh were present. The representative of the petitioner-Company was also present. The boundaries of the site of inspection were matched with the sanctioned map approved by the Mining Department. It was found that illegal excavation was being carried out outside the lease area of 4.000 Hectares in Khasra No.357 to the extent of 0.016 Hectares. The depth of the pit was found to be 25 meters. The Mining Inspector submitted the report to the Collector, Chhatarpur vide report dated 04.11.2020 (Annexure P-2) stating therein that as per the amended Rule 53(1) of the Madhya Pradesh Minor Mineral Rules, 1996 (for short "the Rules of 1996"), for the illegal excavation carried out on the first occasion, the defaulter mining lease holder is liable to a minimum 30-times penalty on the royalty of illegally extracted minerals but the amount of fine in any case shall not be less than Rs.10,000/-. However, as per Sub-Rule (6) of Rule 53 of the Rules of 1996, upon the illegal extractor submitting an application for compounding and disposal of mineral in the event of first time violation, 25-times penalty of the royalty of illegally excavated minerals or Rs.10,000/-, whichever is more, shall be imposed.
(3.) The Collector, Chhatarpur served a show cause notice on the petitioner vide Annexure P-1 dated 05.12.2020 in terms of Rule 53(1)(a) of the Rules of 1996, that as per the aforesaid inspection, the quantity of the illegally excavated stone was approximately 4000 cubic meter for which an amount of Rs.4,80,000/- was payable as royalty and 30-times thereof being Rs.1,44,00,000/-, is the proposed penalty. The petitioner was, therefore, called upon to appear before the Collector on 21.12.2020 at 02.00 p.m. to submit his reply along with the documents, failing which the penalty shall be imposed upon him as per the rules.;

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