Decided on January 28,1983

UNION OF INDIA Respondents


B.C.Ray, J. - (1.) The petitioner No. 1, Messrs. Industrial Fuel Marketing Co., a partnership firm duly registered under the Partnership Act and the petitioners Nos. 2, 3 and 4 who are the partners of the aforesaid firm have assailed in this writ application the institution of the criminal case being Petarbar P. S. Case No. 2 dated 4th April, 1982 on the ground that the said criminal proceeding was wrongly started against the petitioners and also for a mandate restraining the respondents from interfering with the petitioners right to collect sludge or slurry elected, from the coal washeries known as Kathaya Kargaji and Swang washeries belonging to the respondent No. 3, the Central Coalfields Ltd.
(2.) The sallent facts as appear from the petition are as follows, the respondents, Central Coalfields Limited and Coal India Limited are Government Companies, previously, the National Coal Development Corporation Limited (commonly referred to as NCDC) was the Owner of Goal Washeries known as Kathara, Karsali and Swang washeries situate in the District of Giridih in the State of Bihar. The said Coal Washeries have now vested in the respondent No. 3, the Central Coalfields limited. In these washeries a large quantity of coal from Hazaribagh/Giridih Coalfields is brought in for the purpose of processing in order to bring out the good qualities of coal which are required in the Steel Plants. In the course of such processing very fine particles of coal known as slurry are ejected and the same are taken in the several ponds known as slurry ponds or tants wherein the coal particles ejected with the water coming out of the aforesaid washeries are deposited. These slurry ponds or tanks cannot keep all the ejects coming out of the coal washeries and the water with coal particles ejected from the washeries overflows these tanks or ponds into the neighbouring fields and also into the river Damodar. As a result, this elected sludge or slurry with the coal particles He on the agricultural fields as well as on the river teed. It has been pleaded that this causes great 'damage to the fertility of the soil and pollutes the water of the river and the streams. It has been pleaded that this coal ejects overflowing from the reservoirs and after escaping from the limits of the concerned washeries become part and parcel of the soil with which it gets mixed up. As regards the ejected sludge deposited in the river bed it becomes part and parcel of the river bed.
(3.) The petitioners on 19th Aug., 1974, applied to the respondent No. 2, State of Bihar for permission to remove the ejected sludge deposited in the manner aforesaid for the purpose mentioned in the said letter a copy of which is annexed as Annexure 'A' to the petition. The State of Bihar the respondent No. 2, by an Indenture dated 9th April, 1975 entered into between the State Government on the one hand and the petitioners Nos. 2, 3 and 4 on behalf of the aforesaid firm granted settlement in favour of the firm of the right to remove the aforesaid ejects or effluents from the river bed of River Damodar as well as from the agricultural fields belonging to the raiyat on taking the consent of these raiyats as well as from the lands belonging to the State Government for a period of 10 years from 9th April, 1975 on payment of royalty as specified in the said Indenture. It has been further recited in the said Indenture of lease that these elects/sludge being a mineral the State Government is the owner of the same by virtue of the entire estate including the minerals having vested in the State Government under the provisions of Bihar Land Reforms Act. It has also been recited therein that in the second Schedule attached to the Mines & Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957 (Act 67 of 1957) there are six groups of coal and the ejects/ sludge have been grouped under Group No. VI Coal-ejects and the rate of royalty payable in respect of the same has been fixed at 40 paise per tonne. A copy of the said Indenture of lease has been annexed as Annexure 'C' to the writ application. It has been stated in the petition that by letter dated 22nd April, 1975 the District Mining Officer of the respondent No. 2 authorised the petitioner to lift the ejected sludge or slurry from the concerned sites on and from the said date, A copy of the said letter was annexed as Annexure 'E' to the petition. It has been pleaded that after lifting the ejected sludge or slurry the petitioners are converting the same into a particular type of soft coke, that is, briquette, suitable for domestic purpose and have from time to time sold the same as such in the market, it has been further pleaded that after lifting the ejected sludge or slurry from the northern side of the river bed the petitioners kept the same on the southern side of river Damodar, The petitioners have paid all up-to-date outstanding dues of the respondent No. 2, the State of Bihar. under the said Indenture by a challan dated 5th April, 1982.;

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