List all writ petitions on mines & minerals extraction before one Single Bench: CJ

Interim orders run contrary to each other, create confusion
Step to help strict implementation of legislation

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Aug 9: In order to ensure proper implementation of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, the Chief Justice of State High Court Justice Gita Mittal has issued directions for listing of all the writ petitions on extraction of minor minerals before one Single Bench for passing of appropriate orders.
The process of filing of writ petitions pertaining to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 was started in both the wings of the State High Court following issuance of Communication No. IND/ Legal-239 dated February 26, 2019 whereby open auction of mining blocks was scrapped
Though all the writ petitions were inter-related to each other but various interim orders were passed in Jammu and Srinagar wings of the High Court, which run contrary to each other as a result of which Geology and Mining Department started experiencing difficulty in proceeding ahead with the obligation cast upon it in pursuance of the statute governing minor mineral.
On March 13, 2019, Justice Rashid Ali Dar while dealing with a writ petition titled Rakesh Kumar Choudhary Versus Union of India and Others called all the writ petitions from the Registry for perusal and it came to the fore that High Court vide order dated June 19, 2018 passed in Radha Krishan and Others case has directed that no license for mining leases and quarries shall be granted by the competent authority otherwise than the mode of e-auction.
In Subash Chander and Others case, the High Court vide order dated July 2, 2018 made it clear that subject to objections and till next date before the bench impugned public notice dated June 27, 2018 shall stay and no auction shall be held/or acted upon.
In Sarweshwar Sharma and Others case, the High Court while asking the State to explain its position vis-a-vis transitory provision observed, “the transitory provision doesn’t in any manner absolve the successful bidders to obtain environmental clearance”.
Accordingly, Justice Rashid Ali Dar while referring to the questions projected in terms of various writ petitions for adjudication either about the manner in which the extraction of minor minerals is to be made or about environmental concerns or lapses attributed to the concerned authority regarding the statutory duties cast on it, found it proper to direct the Registrar Judicial to solicit orders of the Chief Justice for listing of the cases (both at Srinagar and Jammu wing) before the same bench.
“It would also ward of possibility of passing the directions not contrary to each other. The contention of some petitioners has been that e-auction be only resorted to while others have canvassed this cannot be the only mode for making allocation of mining blocks”, Justice Rashid Ali Dar had observed.
“Whatever may be the justification as is being put forth in this regard by the parties, minerals are being allowed to be extracted without there being any formal contract between the parties for the same”, High Court had further observed.
Now, in pursuance to order dated March 13, 2019, the Chief Justice has directed that all writ petitions pertaining to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 pending in both the wings of High Court be listed before the Single Bench presided over by Justice Sanjeev Kumar.
“If required counsels be heard on video-conference and Registrar Judicial Jammu/Srinagar shall compile and place list of all such cases”, read the order issued by the Chief Justice Gita Mittal.
It is pertinent to mention here that extraction of minor minerals strictly as per the provisions of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act never received due attention in Jammu and Kashmir and this aspect was marred by the controversies from time to time because certain officials of the Geology and Mining Department were hand in glove with the mafia.
“The objective behind listing of all writ petitions before one Single Bench would help in passing of appropriate orders for regulation of minor mineral extraction”, official sources said.