A three-judge bench of Chief Justice N. V. Ramana, Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Hima Kohli has granted permission for the sale of already excavated Iron Ore in the Districts of Bellary, Tumkur, and Chitradurga, lifting the blanket ban imposed over a decade ago. The said ban was imposed in view of the rampant illegal mining and its adverse effect on the ecology in these Districts.

Facts & History of the Case

The writ petition was filed by the Petitioner under Article 132 of the Constitution of India about two decades ago, seeking directions -

  • To stop all mining-related activities in the forest areas of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh
  • To declare all mining contracts/sub-leases issued by the Respondents as illegal and take penal action against the violators
  • To order stoppage of all mining activities within the forest areas in the Bellary Reserve Forest.

In this regard, multiple independent applications were filed before the Supreme Court.

The Apex Court, however, adjudged the matter addressing only 2 prayers – One, on permission to sell the unsold stock of iron ore without e-auction and the other on the lifting of the ban on the export of iron ore/pellets from several districts in Karnataka.

In this context, the Bench observed that – "The Ministry of Mines has also given its no objection to export of iron ore to other countries in terms of the prevalent policy of the Government of India" and that –

"…it is a matter of record that consecutive e-auctions conducted by the Monitoring Committee have been receiving a poor response and sale of iron ore even at the reserve price is dismally low"

The Bench opined that – "…in broad agreement with the stand taken by the Ministry of Steel, Union of India and Ministry of Mines that it is necessary to create a level playing field for the mines situated in the districts of Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur" and that – "…the time has come to review the system that was put in place over a decade ago, on halting the unchecked excavation of iron ore."


The Apex Court has held that -

- The applicants are permitted to sell the already excavated iron ore located at various mines and stock yards across the Districts of Bellary, Tumkur, and Chitradurga in the State of Karnataka

- The applicants may enter into direct contracts and engage in inter-state sales.

- Applicants may also export iron ore and pellets made from the iron ore procured from the mines to countries abroad.

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