The Supreme Court in a case related to granting of a mining lease, has restored the writ petition to be decided afresh saying that the Allahabad High Court did not properly address all the issues raised before it.

The Court was deciding the civil appeals filed by the State of Uttar Pradesh against the orders passed by the Allahabad High Court in a writ petition filed by a leaseholder, who claimed that he was unable to mine sand since the state of Madhya Pradesh raised an objection to the mining operations on the ground that 300 meters of the demised mining area fell within the territorial limits of the State of M.P.

The three-Judge Bench comprising CJI D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra held, “There is also no discussion on the plea of the appellants that the amount of which refund was sought was far in excess of the amount paid by the original petitioner. … Having found that the High Court has not properly addressed all the issues raised before it, we deem it appropriate to remand the matter to the High Court by restoring the writ petition to its original number so that it is decided afresh in accordance with law.”

The Bench requested the High Court to decide the matter in the light of its observations, expeditiously within a period of three months from the date of its order furnished.

Senior Additional Advocate General Garima Prasad appeared on behalf of the appellants while Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora appeared on behalf of the respondent.

In this case, the respondent i.e., the original petitioner was granted a mining lease to excavate five lakhs cubic meter of sand and the lease period was of five years from 2019 to 2024. The royalty payable for the first year was Rs. 26,35,00,000/- and for each succeeding year it was to be higher by 10%. The respondent obtained environmental clearance for mining in the area and the lease was executed thereafter. As per the respondent, when he commenced mining operations, the District Administration of Chhatarpur, Madhya Pradesh raised an objection to the mining operations.

The officers of State of U.P. failed to resolve the boundary dispute when the objection was raised by the respondent and a demand of Rs. 6,58,25,000/- as next instalment was raised. Hence, the matter reached the High Court and after disposal of the writ petition, a second writ petition was filed, which was allowed. Being aggrieved with this, a review application was preferred by the State of U.P. which was only partly allowed. Therefore, the State of U.P. approached the Apex Court.

The Supreme Court in the above regard noted, “On a careful reading of the writ-petition filed by the original petitioner, as noticed above, prima facie, it appears that the State of U.P. was justified in taking a stand in the review petition that the High Court had wrongly observed that the State of U.P. (i.e., respondents in the writ petition) had failed to handover possession of the area allotted to the petitioner for carrying out mining operations. However, while deciding the review petition, this aspect of the matter has not been dealt with by the High Court.”

The Court further observed that there is no determination of the area, which falls in the disputed territory i.e., within the State of M.P and that there is also no discussion on the plea of the appellants that the amount of which refund sought, was far in excess of the amount paid by the original petitioner.

“… the High Court failed to address the ground no.8 in the review petition wherein it was stated that in the advertisement dated 16.02.2018 the bidder was advised to inspect and satisfy itself regarding the mining area before participating in the bidding process. As to what would be the effect of that clause on the relief claimed by the original petitioner is a matter which requires consideration. But there appears no discussion in that regard in the orders impugned”, said the Court.

Accordingly, the Apex Court allowed the appeals, set aside the order of the High Court, and restored the petition for fresh adjudication.

Cause Title- State of U.P. & Others v. Vinay Kumar Singh (Neutral Citation: 2023 INSC 763)

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