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The ownership of the ore is that of the party that has raised the ore, if the same is mined prior to

CHOWGULE AND COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED VERSUS GOA FOUNDATION & ORS. CIVIL APPEAL No. 839 OF 2020 (Arising out of SLP(C) No. 12449 of 2018) – JANUARY 30, 2020

The Bench consisted of Justice S.A.Bobde and Justice B.R.Gavai.

The Government of India received information about the rampant exploitation of Natural resources in Iron ore mining sector in the State of Goa. It appointed Justice M.B. Shah a former Judge as a Commission of Inquiry in this regard. Subsequently after Receiving information and from various authorities as well as from Mining Leaseholders, he submitted reports in 2012. Government of Goa passed an order restraining/suspending all mining activities in the State with effect from September 2012. Later a public interest litigation was filed by Goa foundation, inter alia prayed for direction to Union of India and Goa State government to take steps terminate mining lease where mining was carried out in violation of various statutes. Mining leaseholders filed various writ petitions challenging the report submitted by Justice Shah. Goa Foundation vs.Union of India & Others [GOA FOUNDATION -1] It was held by the Court that, all iron ore and manganese ore leases had expired on 22.11.2007 and any mining operation carried out by the mining leaseholders after that date was illegal. For a second renewal of the mining lease, it was held, that the State Government must apply its mind and record reasons for renewal being in the interest of mineral development and the necessity to renew the mining lease and the same should also be in conformity with the Constitutional provisions. This order of the HC was challenged in Goa Foundation v. Sesa Sterlite Limited and Others [ GOA FOUNDATION-2].  Direction given in 154.6 has given rise to this appeal. Where the miming leaseholders who were granted the second renewal, were permitted to continue their affairs of mining operations until march 2018. The question here was, whether the minerals that were mined before March 2018 could be permitted to be transported by the mining leaseholders or not.

The transportation was suspended by an interim order. The division bench hearing the matter held that, the SC mandated five weeks’ time for arranging the affairs it meant transportation of minerals as well. The learned senior counsel appearing for the Appellants argued that the order did not postulate restriction on transportation of Iron ore and the intention of the order was to suspend the mining and not the transportation. Learned counsel for Goa Foundation vehemently opposed the appeals and stated that the leases were expired already in 2007 and leaseholders were illegally continuing their operations.

“Needless to state, that the transportation of the mineral would be only in respect of such minerals on which royalty is paid. The appellants/mining leaseholders would be permitted to transport the royalty paid ore/mineral from the jetties/stockyard or pitheads on the basis of the valid transit permits issued to them by the competent authority of the State Government.”

The ore which has been permitted to be transported is on condition of payment of royalty. We see no reason why the owners should not be allowed to transport their own ore.

A perusal of clause (gg) of Rule 12(1) of the Minerals (Other than Atomic and Hydro Carbons Energy Minerals) Concession Rules, 2016 would reveal, that on the expiry or sooner termination of the lease term, six months period is granted to the lessees to remove for its own benefit, all or any ore mineral excavated during the currency of the lease, engines, machinery, plant, buildings, structures, tramways, railways and other works, erections and conveniences which may have been erected, set up or placed by the lessee in or upon the leased lands.  An exception is carved out in case of lease being terminated for default of the lessee wherein, period so to be granted is not less than three months and not more than six calendar months after such termination.  However, it is subject to the lessee paying the rents, rates and royalties payable under the Act and the Rules made there under. 

The court held that, that the iron ore which is royalty paid and which is lying on the jetties on or before 15th March, 2018 should be permitted to be loaded on the barges and on the vessels so that they can be transported to their destinations. And order the State of Goa to ensure only iron ore for which royalty is paid to be loaded.

Thus, allowed the appeal.

View/ Download the Judgment: Chowgule And Company Private Limited V.Goa Foundation & Ors.

– Saral M

#terminationoftheleaseterm #conditionstobefulfilledfortransportationofminerals #Goamining #Supremecourt #SaralM

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