Decided on January 15,2020

Union of India And Ors Respondents


- (1.)The applicant, M/s Sarda Mines Pvt. Ltd. (hereinafter, "SMPL"), holds a mining lease for Thakurani (Block B) iron-ore mines at Keonjhar, Odisha. Since, 31.03.2014, its mining operations are lying closed, and it has accordingly approached this Court seeking aappropriate directions for resumption of its mining operations.
(2.)This Court through judgment dated 02.08.2017 in the lead matter, had inter alia held that those mining-lease holders who had extracted minerals either without or in excess of environment/forest clearance, would be liable to deposit the mineral so raised (or its value if disposed off) with the State Government. Owing to a dispute raised by some mining-lease holders, including SMPL, as to whether in fact they had excavated minerals without requisite clearances, this Court referred their cases to the Central Environment Committee (CEC) for quantification of compensatory dues. This CEC submitted a self-speaking report dated 08.05.2019 finding that:
"M/s SMPL during the period 2001-02 to 2010-11 has produced 135,34,703 tonnes of excess quantity /illegal production of iron ore in violation of the Environmental Clearance granted by MoEF&CC. Accordingly, M/s SMPL is liable to pay Rs. 933,60,79,689 (Rupees nine hundred thirty three crores sixty lakhs seventy nine thousand six hundred and eighty nine only) in terms of the Judgment dated 02.08.2017 in WP (C) No. 114 of 2014 and Judgment dated 12.11.2018 in IA No. 40 of 2015, IA No. 42 of 2015, IA No. 61 of 2015 in IA No. 40 of 2015, and IA No. 11989 of 2018 in WP (C) No. 114 of 2014 of this Hon'ble Court."

(3.)During these proceedings, this Court on 22.11.2017 constituted a committee consisting of Hon'ble Mr. Justice G. S. Singhvi and Hon'ble Mr. Justice Anil R. Dave, retired judges of this Court with a specific mandate to ascertain whether there was any violation of Section 6 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 or of Rule 37 of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960. The Committee in Volume VIII of its Report (which was taken on record by this Court on 24.10.2019) examined SMPL's case and noted that there was no violation of either Section 6 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 or of Rule 37 of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960.

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