HC upholds Govt decision on cement transportation

Excelsior Correspondent
Srinagar, Jan 27: High Court has upheld the decision of Government to carry and transport the cement for Leh and Kargil from JK Cements Ltd through State Road Transport Corporation (JKSRTC) with the observation that any promise which is not in tune and in line with the law cannot be declared to be binding on authorities.
Justice M K Hanjura dismissed the writ petition filed by Zaffron Truck Union Khrew challenging the decision taken by the Government direction that the JK Cements Ltd will transport the cement from their unit to Leh and Kargil through SRTC.
Court after hearing all the parties in the case and in view of the law said that any promise which is not in tune and in line with the law cannot be declared to be binding. “The rule of promissory estoppels cannot be invoked for the enforcement of a promise/ declaration, which is against the law and made by the authorities who had no power and authority of the Government to do so”, Court recorded.
On the doctrine of promissory estoppels, Court said, it is based on the principles of equity and to avoid injustice. “However, it cannot be treated to be a sacrosanct when a public authority carries out a representation or a promise which is prohibited by law or is devoid of any authority of law”, Justice Hanjura said.
The State and the statutory authorities, Court added, are not bound by an erroneous interpretation of law. The State cannot be asked to act against and in contravention of the law. “Therefore, anything which runs contrary to the provisions of SRO 157 referred to herein before can neither be accepted nor entertained. The source of the communication dated 14.07.2017 is the said SRO and it shall hold the ground”, read the judgment.
Zaffron Truck Union Khrew Pulwama, Kashmir, through its President approached the court with a plea that the authorities way back in 2005 at the time of the establishment of the JK Cement Limited at Khrew promised in writing that the cement shall be transported through the trucks owned by the villagers of Khrew as such the instruction or any order issued by the Government to the effect of directing the JK Cements Ltd to transport the cement from their Unit to Leh and Kargil through JKSRTC is bad in law and be quashed.
The JK Cements Ltd has issued a communication mentioning therein that in the last meeting held with the Divisional Commissioner, it was decided and resolved that SRTC shall provide sufficient trucks for the  carriage of cement to PWD Leh/ Kargil and petitioner union submitted that this kind of decision is depriving the petitioner union which is almost on the entire population of village comprising of more than 10,000 souls of their source of sustenance.
Petitioner-union submitted that Jammu and Kashmir Cements, set up a Cement Pant (1200 ton) at Khrew and in addition some private entrepreneurs have also set up as many as six Cement plants with a total capacity of 2000 ton per day in the vicinity of Jammu and Kashmir Cements Limited.
The Cement Plants so set up are playing havoc to the environment and the eco-system of the belt and an area measuring 43650 Kanal has come either under the Cement Plants, or is adversely affected by the emissions of the cement plants.
“Resultantly, the entire agriculture land situated at village Khrew has altered its course and has turned into a barren chunk of land depriving the entire population of village Khrew, comprising of more than 10,000 souls of their only source of livelihood”, read the petition.