The Supreme Court has quashed the Orissa High Courts 2008 order that asked the state government to execute a iron and manganese ore mining lease for around 1,520 hectare area in favour of Mesco Steel Ltd. It accepted the Orissa governments stand by holding that the HC was in error in proceeding on an assumption that a final decision had been taken and in quashing what was no more than an inter-departmental communication constituting at best a step in the process of taking a final decision by the government. While holding that the Mescos petition before the HC was premature as the government had not taken any final decision, the top court directed the company to submit its reply to the 2007 show-cause notice issued by the state government within three months. It also said that the government may pass a reasoned order within two months and gave liberty to Mesco to take recourse to appropriate proceedings in case the decision was unacceptable to it. Mesco was granted conditional lease for mining of iron ore for an area measuring 1,011.480 hectares in Kadakala and Luhakala villages besides an area measuring 508.500 hectares in villages Sundara and Pidapokhari of Keonjhar district for a period of 30 years. However, by another communication of June 2000, the state government had pointed out that on account of the companys inaction in setting up the proposed two steel plants at Duburi and Jakhapura, IDCO had initiated action for cancellation of allotment of 3,100 acre allotted in favour of Mesco Kalinga Steel Plant, the sister concern of the company, for the proposed steel plant, captive power plant and township. Aggrieved by the inter-departmental communication, the company moved the HC seeking the quashing of the September 2006 recommendations made by the director of mines proposing to reduce the lease area granted to the company. The HC held that in the absence of a mining lease in favour of the company, it could not take the risk of setting up of a steel plant and directed the state government to execute a formal mining lease in favour of Mesco.
No need for veg, non-veg tags on drugs
Overturning the Delhi High Courts 12-year-old verdict, the Supreme Court has held that symbols to indicate non-vegetarian or vegetarian ingredients are not required to be printed on the package of a cosmetic or a drug as the latter cannot be treated at par with food articles for labeling purposes. Also, since the food habits in India vary from person to person and from place to place, it is not practicable and desirable to display identifications about the origin of the non-vegetarian ingredients in the packages of drugs and cosmetics, the top court said. Accepting the stand of Indian Soaps and Toiletries Makers Association and the central government, it said that the HC had no jurisdiction since the issue had already been considered by the Centre and was referred to the Drug Technical Advisory Board. The HC in 2002 had directed cosmetic and drug manufacturers to print a red symbol on the package with non-vegetarian ingredients and green symbol on products containing ingredients of purely vegetarian origin. Besides, it held that the consumer had the fundamental right to know whether the food products, cosmetics and drugs available for human consumption are of non-vegetarian or vegetarian origin. The HC order, however, exempted life-saving drugs. However, the Centre and the Indian Soaps & Toiletries Makers Association challenged it. The Centre said it was not possible to demarcate drugs as the condition of a patient may be such that a drug which is ordinarily not treated as a life saving drug may be essential to save the life. In such a case when drug becomes a life saving drug, it may not be desirable for the patient or his attendant to know the origin of the ingredients of the drug i.e. whether vegetarian or non-vegetarian. Such option cannot be left on the patient or his attendant if required to save the life or eradicate a disease, the UoI had argued.
Rajasthan govt needs to re-read its land acquisition Act
The Supreme Court in the case of Laxman Lal (deceased) through LRS and ANR vs State of Rajasthan and Ors has directed the Rajasthan government to return the land acquired illegally for building a bus stand at Dungarpur to the owners. Though the original owners have died, only their successors will receive the returned land measuring 4 bigha and 2 biswa taken over for building a bus stand, which was not built for seven years after its acquisition in 1980. However, by another notification of 1987, the state government had invoked its emergency powers to retain the land. The land owners had moved the high court, which did not find any illegality in the procedure followed by the state government and held that a declaration under Section 6 in respect of the land can be made at any time after the publication of the notification under Section 4 (1) of the Rajasthan Land Acquisition Act, 1953. On appeal, the Supreme Court termed the HC decision wrong. It said: The state government seems to have some misconception that in the absence of any time limit prescribed in Section 17(1) and (4) for exercise of such power after issuance of notice under Section 4 of the 1953 Act, it can invoke the power of urgency whenever it wants. We are afraid the whole understanding of Section 17 by the state government is fallacious.