‘Raiyat’ Land Is Not For Mining, Grant & Classification Of Same Land As ‘Dungri’ Is Contradictory: SC Directs WB Govt To Execute Mining Lease
The Supreme Court has directed the West Bengal Government to execute a mining lease in favour of M/s. Chiranjilal (Mineral) Industries of Bagandih (respondent) saying that ‘Raiyat’ land is not for mining and grant and classification of the same land as ‘Dungri’ is contradictory.
The Court was deciding a civil appeal filed by the State and Joint Secretary, Department of Industries, Commerce and Enterprises, West Bengal against the judgment of the Calcutta High Court whereby the intra-court appeal of the State was dismissed with the direction to execute a mining lease in favour of the respondent.
The two-Judge Bench comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Aravind Kumar held, “The controversy relating to Section 4-C of the WBLR Act, 1955, cannot simply be decided on the basis of Memo No. V/RTI/775/15 dated 06.03.2017 issued by the Deputy District Land and Land Reforms Officer, Purulia, that as per the revenue records the land was recorded as ‘Dungri’. The reason is that Raiyat land is not for mining. Thus, a contradiction arises, as the grant of Raiyat land and the classification of the same land as ‘Dungri’ is contradictory.”
The Bench said that when the law changes by an amendment in the legislation, the amended legal provisions have to be considered, interpreted and applied.
Senior Advocate Anand Grover represented the appellants while Respondent No. 2- Dinesh Agarwal appeared in-person.
Brief Facts -
In 1985, West Bengal Mineral Development and Trading Corporation Limited (WBMDTCL) had filed an application for grant of long-term mining lease. The respondent filed an application before the Mining Officer-in-charge for the grant of mining lease and then filed a writ petition before the High Court seeking disposal of application for grant of lease. The Court directed the State authorities to dispose of the application of the respondent at an early date and in accordance with law. The Joint Secretary rejected the application of the respondent on the ground of non-availability land in view of the previous application of WBMDTCL.
Aggrieved, the respondent filed a writ petition before the High Court and the orders rejecting application of the respondent were recalled. Thereafter, it was made clear that the decision as to the grant will be on the basis of the law and the rules applicable at the time of consideration. Thereupon, reference in the order was made to sub-section (2) to Section 11 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. A clarification was issued by the Additional District Magistrate and District Land and Land Reforms Officer stating that the Section 14-Y of the WBLR Act, 1955 would not be applicable as the respondent did not acquire land in excess ceiling limit. The judgment was challenged by the State which was dismissed.
The Supreme Court in view of the above facts observed, “… whether the consent letter of the owners of the land in question (Raiyats) obtained by the Respondent No. 1 - M/s. Chiranjilal (Mineral) Industries of Bagandih still hold good, would be relevant as there could be a change of hands on account of transfer, inheritance, etc. Connected with this are the legal issues. First, whether the Respondent No. 1 - M/s. Chiranjilal (Mineral) Industries of Bagandih had altered its position post the issue of the Grant Order dated 16.07.2015, but before enforcement of the Concession Rules, 2016, to get the benefit of Rule 61 of the Concessions Rules, 2016? It is necessary to ascertain the facts and then alone one can adjudicate and decide the question whether the Respondent No. 1 - M/s. Chiranjilal (Mineral) Industries of Bagandih is entitled to the benefit of the proviso to Rule 61 of the Concession Rules, 2016.”
The Court said that the remand order should not be passed at such distinct point of time and that there should not be any difficulty in granting of mining lease for the area to the respondent.
The Court, therefore, directed the State to execute the mining lease in favour of the respondent and clarified that the claim of the respondent towards the balance area for the grant of mining lease will be treated as rejected and dismissed.
Accordingly, the Apex Court partly allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned judgment.
Cause Title- State of West Bengal and Another v. M/s. Chiranjilal (Mineral) Industries of Bagandih and Another (Neutral Citation: 2023INSC824)