Decided on February 18,1970

ONDAL COAL CO. Appellant


- (1.) This is an appeal against the judgment of A. N. Roy, J., (as he then was), dated January 20, 1966, by which the Rule obtained by the Respondents, Sonepur Coal Fields, was made, absolute, and the order of the Coal Board of May 17, 1963, which is at p. 31 of the Paper Book, was quashed. The present appeal is by the Ondal Coal Co., which was Respondent No. 4 in the Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution brought by the Sonepur Coal Co., (hereinafter referred to as the Petitioner Co.).
(2.) The Petitioner Co.'s case was that the Ondal Coal Co., a lessee of the disputed coal mines, granted a sub-lease in favour of the Petitioner Co., arid delivered possession on June 1, 1946, since when the Petitioner Co. has been in possession and has also fulfilled the other terms of the agreement of sub-lease, so that, the only interest now left with the Ondal Co., in the said Mines is the right to receive royalty from the Petitioner Co. The Petitioner's case, in the aforesaid circumstances, is that the Petitioner Co. has become the 'owner' of the disputed Mines within the meaning of that term in the Coal Mines (Conservation and Safety) Act, 1952 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'), and as such is entitled to obtain permission under the Act, from the Coal Board (Respondent No. 1 in the Petition), for opening and reopening the Mines.
(3.) The Petitioner, in fact, did obtain such permission in 1947 under the Coal Control Order of 1945 (p. 23) but the Mines could not then be worked by the Petitioner Co. The Company subsequently made an application to the Coal Board under the Rules made under the Act for reopening the Mines in July 1957 and the Coal Board advised the Petitioner Co. to obtain a licence from the Central Government under the Industries (Development & Regulation) Act, 1951 to establish an industrial undertaking for production of Coal. Before the application of the Petitioner to the Board could be disposed of in March 1961, the Board informed the Petitioner that a similar application had been received from the Ondal Coal Co. The Petitioner Co., protested against the granting of any permission in favour of the Ondal Coal Co. but the Board did not pay any heed to that. Coming to know that the Board was going to hold a meeting for disposing of the application of the Ondal Co., without issuing any notice to the Petitioner Co., the Petitioner sent a formal letter to the Board through its Solicitors, on February 4, 1963, raising objections (p. 23). The Board asked for certain information from the Petitioner Co. (p. 28) and eventually, by its impugned letter at p. 31, informed the Petitioner Co., that since the latter had not produced the documents called for by the Board, the Board had taken final decision "granting" reopening permission to the Ondal Coal Co.".;

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