(1.)The Petitioner-Company carries on business in mining in the District of Burdwan, West Bengal. Prior to October, 1949, the Petitioner-Company had obtained from the then properties of the respective mouzas mining leases in the following mouzas, namely, (i) Burrra Dhemo, (ii) Jagatdhi, (iii) Bartoria & (iv) Khilgaon. Prior to October, 1949, the Petitioner-Company had obtained sub-leases from the then lessees of the properties of the following Mouzas, namely, (i) Barachak, (ii) Narsamuda, (iii) Santa, (iv) Fatepur and (v) Lalpur. All the above Mouzas are situated in Burdwan District.
(2.)With effect from the 15th April, 1955, under section 4 of the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act, all estates and rights of every intermediaries in each estate situated in the District of Burdwan vested in the State free from all encumbrances. Under section 2(1) of the West Bengal Acquisition Act as originally enacted the expression 'intermediately' did not include lessees and sub-lessees of mines and minerals. On the 16th January, 1957, an Ordinance was passed altering the definition of the word 'intermediary' in section 2(i) of the said Act. Thereafter, the West Bengal Act 4 of 1957 was enacted replacing the Ordinance. Under the amended definition given in section 2(i), the expression 'intermediary' in relation to mines and minerals includes a lessee and a sub-lessee. The said amendment of the definition of the expression 'intermediary' was given retrospective effect. Section5 of the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act laid down the effects of a notification under-section 4 of the Act. By West Bengal Act 33 of 1964, Sub-section 2 was added to section 5 which declared that all rights and interests in mines and minerals of all intermediaries, being lessees and sub-lessees, in any notified area shall be deemed to have been vested in the State with effect from the date of vesting mentioned in the notification under section 4 in respect of such notified area.
(3.)From the 11th November, 1955, the Petitioner-Company made some adhoc payments to the State Government on account of royalty, etc. in respect of its mining operation, in the aforesaid mine Mouzas. Upto the 6th July, 1957, the Petitioner-Company had paid in this behalf Rs. 1,69,006. 36 paise. Again the Petitioner-Company had made some more payments towards the royalty to the State Government Between September, 1966 and June, 1967. Ultimately on the 6th October, 1968, the Collector of Burdwan filed a Certificate of public demand against the petitioner being Misc. Case No. 22/68-69 for a sum of Rs. 25,71,565.62 paise as balance amount of the royalty on coal, surface & way leave, rent and price of fire coal etc. due from 15th April, 1955. The said certificate also included interest due on the arrear amount. The total dues came to Rs, 31,16,771.98 paise less Rs. 5,45.206.36 paise already paid by the petitioner, (Annexure ?A? to the petition). The petitioner was served with a notice under section 7 of the Bengal Public Demand Recovery Act.