SC rejects JSPL plea to sell illegally extracted iron ore

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Published: December 4, 2019 5:56:16 AM

JSPL opposed sale of iron ore by banks, saying the iron ore belonged to it and it should be allowed to consume and transport it from the current location, which is Sarda Mines.

JSPL opposed sale of iron ore by banks, saying the iron ore belonged to it and it should be allowed to consume and transport it from the current location, which is Sarda Mines.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to allow Jindal Steel & Power to sell and transport 12 million tonne of illegally-extracted iron ore worth Rs 2,000 crore from Sarda mines in Odisha.

A Bench led by Justice S Abdul Nazeer while refusing interim relief said: “Sarda is mined illegally. How can we allow it…just because its sold to you (JSPL).” It posted the case for further hearing in the second week of January.

JSPL opposed sale of iron ore by banks, saying the iron ore belonged to it and it should be allowed to consume and transport it from the current location, which is Sarda Mines.

However, banks opposed JSPL’s plea, saying they have a statutory charge over the same iron ore. The lenders argued that they should be allowed to sell the extracted iron ore and the money realised should go to the trust and debenture account. A consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India had claimed that JSPL owes them Rs 7,400 crore.

The court was hearing a case by the Odisha government seeking to bar JSPL from accessing the extracted iron ore in Keonjhar mine in Odisha which the company claims was mined before the state government imposed a ban on mining.

The Supreme Court had last year in November held Sarda Mines guilty of illegal mining. Sarda Mines had acquired a mining lease for over 947.046 hectare for 20 years from 2001 to 2021 for Thakurani iron ore mine in Keonjhar in Odisha, but the environment clearance was granted only in 2004. In 2017, the Supreme Court had ordered 100% penalty on steelmakers that have illegally extracted iron and manganese ore in the state.

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