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Amit Gupta v/s State of Madhya Pradesh & Others


    W.P. No. 10404 of 2019

    Decided On, 24 March 2021

    At, High Court of Madhya Pradesh

    By, THE HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE MR. MOHAMMAD RAFIQ & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE VIJAY KUMAR SHUKLA

    For the Appearing Parties: M.L. Jaiswal, K.K. Gautam, B.D. Singh, Naman Nagrath, Anvesh Shrivastava, Sanjay K Agrawal, Advocates.



Judgment Text

V.K. Shukla, J.

1. The present petition has been filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India seeking a writ of certiorari for quashing the order of the Director, Geology and Mining dated 08-12-2017 and also the order of the State Government dated 08-03-2019. Writ of prohibition has also been sought to restrain the respondent nos. 3 to 9 from carrying out the mining in respect of the area granted to them. It is also prayed that the case be remanded to the State Government with a direction to consider the area of the petitioner for grant of prospecting license.

2. By the impugned order, the application of the petitioner for grant of prospecting license of mineral granite was rejected and quarry lease was granted to respondent nos. 3 to 9 for extraction of mineral stone for manufacturing Gitti by mechanical crushing. By order dated 08-03-2021, the State Government has rejected the appeal filed by the petitioner against the order of Director, Geology and Mining. In the instant case, the Director, Geology and Mining as well as the State Government have arrived at the conclusion that the area in question does not contain reserve of granite suitable for commercial mining inasmuch as it has been reported that there are lots of joints and fractures in the granite rock and therefore, the same cannot be used for cutting and polishing of granite tiles. The said decision is based on two inspections carried out by the officers of the Mining Department.

3. The petitioner filed an application for grant of prospecting license over Khasra No.410, area 9.829 hectares situated at Churiyari, Tahsil Gaurihar, District Chhatarpur for granite under Chapter III-A of the M.P. Minor Mineral Rules, 1966. The said Chapter-III-A(a) deals with the application for prospecting license for minerals specified in Serial No.1 to 7 of Schedule 1. As per Chapter III-A, Item No.6- stone for making Gitti by mechanical crusher, the period of grant of prospecting license for granite shall be as prescribed under Granite Conservation and Development Rules, 1999. The respondent nos. 3 to 9 also applied for different areas out of the aforesaid Khasra No.410, area 19.829 hectare for the grant of quarry lease for stone and not granite stone for the purpose of manufacturing of Gitti through crushers. The application which was moved for prospecting license for granite as per Schedule-1 was that of the petitioner only. As per report of the Director of Geology and Mining, the aforesaid khasra number is reported to having rock which is not suitable for making block. It is further stated that the granite rock is found in the surface but it has lots of joints and fractures and there is no other mineral found in the area. Copy of the said report was filed as Annexure P-2. The aforesaid area, on the basis of spot inspection and physical verification by Assistant Director, Geology & Mining was reported that it contains medium grained granite, highly fractured and jointed of decomposition of rock in small and the said granite can be used as Gitti for construction. Copy of the said report is filed as Annexure P-3. It is further stated that on the basis of the aforesaid report, the Collector by order dated 08-12-2017 granted the areas to the respondent nos.3 to 9 for the purpose of stone for Gitti crushed in crusher to be used for construction, whereas the application of the petitioner was rejected. The petitioner filed an appeal against the aforesaid order before the State Government alongwith report carried out by Shri R.S.Bhatnagar, Construction Geologist, who reported that the area has hilly deposit and having "U" shaped of hill and found exposure of granite are sheet deposit, about all elevation of 25 to 30 meters height. Granite having good in colour of Light to dark reddish in fine grained and that the granite is sheet deposit and very little of joint/fracture. It was further stated that the composition of granite mainly of quartz ( about 25% max), feldspar ( about 45%), little amount of mafics (less than 3%) and that is very much suitable for making of Granite block. The petitioner submitted that the State Government by an order dated 08-03-2019 held that the report of the Director of Geology and Mining is wholly incorrect and the area has granite in block and the same is suitable for making Blocks. The respondent no.4 has transferred the area of 2.500 hectares granted to him for stone to be crushed into Gitti vide order darted 19-06-2018. By order of Collector dated 21-08-2018, similarly Smt. Pooja Tomar, the respondent no.7 has transferred the area of 2.20 hectares granted to her vide order dated 21-04-2018 by order of the Collector dated 02-05-2018 in favour of P.N.C. Infotech Ltd. Agra. The respondent no.10 has also filed an application disclosing that the area of grant made in favour of the respondent no.8 was requested to be cancelled and the same was cancelled vide order dated 24-07-2018 and the same has been granted to the respondent no.10 by order dated 24-06-2019. It is submitted that the grant made in favour of the respondent no.10 by orders dated 24-07- 2018 and 24-06-2019 are wholly illegal.

4. The orders passed by the respondents have been mainly challenged on the ground that it is evident from the report dated 20-07- 2016 (Annexure P-2) that there is no other mineral found in the area with the height of the Granite rock of about 8 meters from the surface and the reserve of Granite Rock have been calculated to the desired depth from surface which is about 10 lac cubic meter. According to the petitioner, as per the report, it is evident that the granite is a valuable mineral and has a huge deposit of 10 lacs cubic meter. He submitted that the report dated 17-05-2017 of the Assistant Director is not based on any prospecting being carried out. Both earlier reports as well as the report dated 17-05-2017 are not based on any prospecting carried out and were based on mere spot inspection and consequently has no value. It is also submitted that the report dated 27-03-2018 (Annexure P-5) is a report which is based on thorough examination of the area reporting that the elevation of 25 to 30 meters height, Granite good in colour of light to dark reddish in fine grained and the granite which is available has the composition of Quartz of 25% and Feldspar 45% and the same is suitable for making granite block. It is stated that the State Government ought not to have dismissed the appeal on the face of the report of the Geologist and should have directed for grant of prospecting license. It is also contended that the reports are contradictory and unless a prospecting is carried out thoroughly, it should not have been granted for the purpose of Gitti which would cause revenue loss of crores to the Government because the rate of royalty as per Schedule-III for dimensions of stone granite and other igneous, metamorphic rocks used for cutting and polishing for the purpose of making blocks, slabs and tiles is Rs.2000 per cubic meter whereas for the purpose of Gitti the royalty payable shall be Rs.100/- per cubic meter which is 20 times less than royalty of the granite. Thus, the authorities have passed the order without any application of mind.

5. Questioning the legality and validity of the order dated 08- 12-2017 passed by the Director, Geology and Mining whereby the application of the petitioner for grant of mineral granite has been cancelled and also the order dated 08-03-2019 passed by the State Government whereby the appeal preferred by the petitioner against the order of Director, Geology and Mining, learned counsel for the petitioner cited the judgment passed by the Apex Court in the case of Maulavi Hussein Haji Abraham Umaraj Vs. State of Gujarat and another, (2004) 6 SCC 672 in support of his submission wherein it has been held that the court cannot read anything into a statutory provision which is plain and unambiguous. The Statute is an edict of legislature. He also cited the judgment of the Full Bench in the case of Trinity Infrastructure Vs. State of M.P. and others, (2020) 4 MPLJ 511 in support of his submission that the court cannot add or subtract word of statute or read something into it, which is not there. It cannot recast or rewrite legislation. He also cited the judgment in the case of State of Rajasthan Vs. Gotan Limestone, (2016) 4 SCC 469 in support of his submission as to the mineral wealth vests in the State, it has to exercise its power as per doctrine of Public Trust Lessee. He also cited the judgment in the case of V.P. Pitthupitchai Vs. Special Secretary, (2003) 9 SCC 534 in support of his submission that transfer of lease for private benefit without corresponding benefit to the public of State Exchequer is not permitted and it is the duty of the court to lift the veil of transaction. On the basis of the aforesaid submissions, it has been submitted that the orders passed by the Director, Geology and Mining and by the State Government dated 08-03-2019 dismissing the appeal are illegal and contrary to the provisions of the Act and the Rules.

6. The State filed the reply and denied the submissions advanced on behalf of the petitioner. It has been submitted that the petitioner has failed to point out any anomaly, defect or illegality in the two reports of the State which have been filed as Annexures P-2 and P-3. No allegation of any malafide has been alleged against anybody. In fact, the second report was called from the Assistant Geologist of the Directorate of Geology and Mining at the behest of the petitioner himself during the hearing by the DGM. The petitioner is bound by the findings given in the said reports.

7. The respondent nos. 6, 8 and 10 supported the orders passed by the Director, Geology and Mining and the State Government. It is stated that the respondents filed an application seeking demand of quarry lease for the minor mineral stone for making Gitti by mechanical crushing ( i.e. by use of crusher). The authority called the report in terms of Rule-8 of M.P. Minor Mineral Rules and thereafter the Regional Head, Directorate of Geology and Mining vide its report dated 20-07-2016 had submitted that granite rock is found on the surface but it has lots of joint and fracture i.e. rock is not suitable for making block. During the pendency of the case before the Director General of Mining, the petitioner disputed the report dated 20-07-2016 and requested for physical verification of land which was duly considered and a fresh physical verification was conducted by a team comprising of Deputy Director, Directorate of Geology and Mining and Assistant Geologist, Directorate of Geology and Mining and in its report dated 17-05-2017, it was concluded that the granite which is available is medium green, highly fractured and jointed and as such, is not capable of making block. So far the petitioner's claim to grant of quarry lease in favour of the answering respondent is concerned, they have been granted quarry lease for minor mineral stone for making gitti by mechanical crushing. It is further submitted that no lease has been granted in favour of the respondent no.10 and that only letter of intent/LOI in terms of Rule 18 of the Rules has been issued. The letter of intent granted in favour of the respondent no.8 was cancelled on his request. Therefore, there is no violation of Rule 14 of Rules 1996 and Section 19 of Act, 1957.

8. The respondent no.11 also supported the orders passed by the respondents. It is submitted that the respondent no.11 entered into an agreement with respondent no.7 for transfer of her lease in favour of the answering respondent. After obtaining permission from the competent authority, the respondent no.7 executed the lease deed in favour of the answering respondent which has been duly registered with the Registrar Stamps and Registration. After obtaining the lease from the respondent no.7, the answering respondent has been granted consent under Section 25 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and under Section 25 of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. It is submitted that the respondent no.11 applied for grant of environmental clearance as required under notification dated 15-01- 2016. After public hearing and consideration of claim and objections, the District Level Environmental Clearance Authorituy granted environmental clearance vide order dated 24-09-2018. The Panchayat also granted 'No Objection Certificate' for extraction of stone for manufacturing of gitti by mechanical crushing. The land was also got diverted for non-agriculture use. The respondent no.11 also filed Geological Survey Report dated 19-08-2019 conducted by Shri R.K.Choubey concluding that no such minerals of granite was found and the rock formation in the concerned area is massive and that can only qualify for construction of industries as metal stone. The respondent no.11 has got the lease transferred in its favour with the permission of the competent authority and has completed all the formalities for manufacturing of gitti by mechanical crushing. There is no illegality in the rejection of application of the petitioner and the quarry lease was granted to the respondent nos. 3 to 9 for extraction of mineral stone for manufacturing gitti by mechanical crushing.

9. We have heard the learned counsel for the parties and perused the record. We do not find any merit in the writ petition. In the instant case, the Director, Geology and Mining as well as the State Government have arrived at the conclusion that the area in question does not contain reserve of granite suitable for commercial mining inasmuch as it has been reported that there are lot of joints and fractures in the granite rock and therefore, the same cannot be used for cutting and polishing of granite tiles. The said decision is based on two inspections carried out by the officers of the Mining Department. The first enquiry was conducted by the Regional Head, Geology and Mining Rewa, who clearly reported that granite rock is found on the surface but it has lot of joints and fractures and the same is not suitable for mining rock. On the request of the petitioner, another inspection of the area was carried out by Assistant Geologist, Director, Geology and Mining alongwith Deputy Director, Technical, who also reported availability of medium granite, weathered highly fractured and jointed rocks of granite in the area. On the basis of the reports su

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bmitted by the Technical Experts of the department, the Director, Geology and Mining came to the conclusion that the area can only be granted for extraction of stone for manufacturing of gitti by mechanical crushing. The said decision of the Director, Geology and Mining has also been affirmed by the State Government vide order dated 08-03-2019. The report of Private Geologist was not submitted before the Sanctioning Authority and therefore, the said authority has no occasion to consider the said report. On the basis of subsequently obtained report of Private Geologist, it cannot be submitted that the decision taken by the authorities is not just and proper. Once the experts have already taken a decision and have arrived at the conclusion that the area in question does not contain reserve of granite suitable for commercial mining, we are not inclined to interfere in the matter in exercise of the powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. 10. So far as contention of the petitioner that the grant of lease for extraction of stone would cause loss of revenue to the State Government, we do not find any merit in the same. The area contains deposit of rocks which can only be used for manufacturing of Gitti and therefore, grant of lease would fetch revenue to the State Government. On the contrary, grant of prospecting license may not fetch any revenue to the State Government, as the area in question does not contain rocks of granite suitable for commercial exploitation. 11. In view of the aforesaid, we do not find any merit in the writ petition and the same is dismissed.
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