SC rejects JSW, Centres mining review pleas

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 24 2013, 06:33am hrs
The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed cross-petitions filed by four mining companies and the Centre seeking a review of the apex court's September 2010 order that set aside a recommendation by the Karnataka government later endorsed by the central government to allow mining of iron and manganese ores on 380 hectare by JSW Steel and Kalyani Steels in Sandur, which falls in the state's Bellary district.

With Tuesday's order dismissing the mines ministrys plea, a special bench headed by Justice P Sathasivam also rejected five other pleas of JSW Steel (erstwhile Jindal Vijaynagar Steels), Sandur Manganese & Iron Ores, MSPL and Kalyani Steels seeking review/modification of the September 15, 2010 judgment.

The court shall interfere only when there is a glaring omission or patent mistake or when a grave error has crept in the impugned judgment, which we fail to notice in the present case, the bench stated.

Regarding the Karnataka government having committed to JSW Steels the grant of mining leases in 1994, Justice Sathasivam said the state government had no authority under the the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 to make commitments to any person that it will, in future, grant a mining lease in the event that the person makes investment in any project. Assuming that the state government had made any such commitment, it could not be possible for it to take an inconsistent position and proceed to notify a particular area. Further, having notified the area, the state government certainly could not thereafter honour an alleged commitment by ousting other applicants even if they are more deserving on the merit criteria, the judgment stated.

Besides, it noted that JSW had raised the issue after eight years and, more precisely, after five years of commencing commercial operations in its steel plant by making an application in 2002. The apex court had in its 2010 judgment quashed a recommendation of the state government that was subsequently endorsed by the Centre.