BARIN GHOSH, C.J. -
(1.) WE refuse to admit the appeal for the reasons indicated below:
(2.) APPELLANT No. 1 was granted a mining lease on 2nd June, 1994, appellant No. 2 was granted a mining lease on 27th June, 1994, and appellant No. 3 was granted a mining lease on 29th June, 1994 by the District Officer, Tehri Garhwal, then an employee of the State of Uttar Pradesh. On 16th December, 1996, Government of Uttar Pradesh revoked the said mining leases. That action resulted in filing of the writ petition before the Hon'ble Allahabad High Court. On the writ petition, an interim order was passed by the Hon'ble Allahabad High Court on 5th February, 1997 to the effect that, if the mining leases are in non-reserved forest area, the operation of the order dated 16th December, 1996 shall remain stayed. According to the appellants, no advantage of the said interim order could be taken and, accordingly, mining activities had to be stopped since 16th December, 1996.
It was the contention in the writ petition that the mining leases, in question, were granted by the District Officer and not by the District Officer Committee. It was contended that Rule 78, granting revisional power to the State Government, was inserted in The Uttar Pradesh Minor Minerals (Concession) Rules, 1963 (hereinafter referred to as the "said Rules") on 27th August, 1994. It was contended that the revisional power, accordingly, should be deemed to be prospective and, accordingly, whatever was done before such power was granted, could not be brought within the ambit of such power. We reject the said contention, inasmuch as, the power of revision, though is to be exercised prospectively; but, while exercising such power, all such matters, upon which such powers can be exercised, could be brought within the domain of exercise of such power.
It was next contended that by Rule 78, power of revision has been vested in relation to orders passed by District Officer Committee, Director or the Divisional Commissioner and not in relation to orders passed by District Officer. It was submitted that, in terms of Rule 8 of the said Rules, the State Government or authority authorised by it was entitled to dispose of the applications. It was contended that, by a notification published in 1964, District Officer became authorised to dispose of such applications. It was, accordingly, submitted that, in such view of the matter, question of the State Government exercising revisional authority over an order passed by the District Officer did not arise. The fact remains that, in 1990, by a notification, District Officer Committee became the authority authorised by the State Government to dispose of the applications under Rule 8 of the said Rules. In the circumstances, in 1994, when the leases were executed in favour of the appellants, the District Officer had no authority to grant the leases. The grant of leases by the District Officer should, in law, be deemed to be grant of such leases by the District Officer Committee. Therefore, an action on the part of the District Officer in the instant case could also be within the revisional jurisdiction of the State Government.
(3.) THE most important aspect of the matter, which has been highlighted in the judgment under appeal, is that, in view of the provisions contained in Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, no non forest activity could be permitted to be done in a forest area without first obtaining the permission of the Central Government. The fact remains that the mining leases, in the instant case, were granted in a forest area. There is no dispute that mining activity is a non forest activity. Therefore, grant of those leases, being in violation of law, were void ab initio from the date of grant thereof. Any superior authority, for the purpose of making the things clear, can, at all time, declare that the action complained of is an illegality. The same was done in the instant case by the State Government by declaring that the grant of the leases in question were void ab initio and, while doing so, it not only had the revisional jurisdiction, but had otherwise competence also to do so, inasmuch as, a delegator retains control over the delegate and all its actions at all point of time, except in the case when the delegation is in the field of legislation.
In the writ petition, an amendment was made and, thereby, a mandamus was sought for sending the proposal to permit such mining activity for consideration by the Central Government. Steps in that regard were taken, but ultimately the concerned minister made a note in the file that the same is not required in the instant case. The fact remains that such steps were taken in view of an order passed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court on 4th March, 1997 in connection with another matter. In that case, a direction was given upon the lessees, where the lessees have not forwarded the particulars for seeking permission under the Forest (Conservation) Act, to forward the same immediately, with a corresponding direction upon the State Government to forward all completed pending applications within a period of two weeks from the date of the said order of the Hon'ble Supreme Court to the Central Government for requisite decisions. The nature of the said order clearly indicates that the word 'lessees' used therein meant those lessees, who were parties to the proceedings before the Hon'ble Supreme Court and not all and sundry lessees sailing in the same boat. In any event, appellants herein forwarded the particulars to the Government only on 3rd October, 1997 and, by that time, even the time given to the State Government for forwarding completed applications to the Central Government had expired and, as such, no action thereon could be taken.;