1. Similar questions of fact and law are involved in all these cases.
2. By consent of Mr. D.L.N. Rao, learned Senior Advocate for the petitioners and Mr. Madhusudan R. Naik, learned Senior Advocate for the Caveator respondent 4, we take up hearing of all the three matters together.
3. These writ petitions are filed by unsuccessful applicants for quashing the recommendation made by the State Government for grant of mining lease. The recommendation was made in favour of the private-respondent 4.
4. Mr. Madhusudan R. Naik, learned Senior Advocate appears for the Caveator respondent 4. He raises a preliminary objection with regard to the maintainability of these writ petitions on the ground that the recommendation is not final until the Central Government passes an order either granting or refusing approval under Sections 5(1) and 11(5) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, and, therefore, it is not permissible for the writ petitioners to approach this Court by filing a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
5. He draws our attention to the decision of the Supreme Court of India in the case of Geomin Minerals and Marketing Private Limited v State of Orissa and Others (AIR 2013 SC 2438: (2013) 7 SCC 571).
6. Mr. Naik Submits that the Supreme Court of India held that the High Court would commit grave error in entertaining such premature petitions.
7. Mr. D.L.N. Rao, learned Senior Advocate appearing for the petitioners, however, draws our attention to the tabulated statements prepared by the State Government while making the recommendation.
8. Mr. Rao, strenuously, submits that the process of recommendation by the State Government was improper and the cases were rejected without application of mind. He submits that the case of one of the applicants was not at all considered although he had fulfilled all the criteria.
9. Mr. Rao submits that Geomin’s case, has no application in the facts of these cases.
10. Mr. Rao draws our attention to a decision of the Supreme Court of India in Sandur Manganese and Iron Ores Limited v State of Karnataka and Others ((2010) 13 SCC 1).
11. He draws our attention to the fact that the Supreme Court of India in Sandur Manganese’s case, observed that the recommendations have to be made considering the various guiding criteria and not to be made on irrelevant points.
12. He submits that where the applicant has a mining lease in the State, its past investments are irrelevant considerations. But, the State Government, while making the recommendation, had taken such matters into consideration. He meticulously read the tabulation statement and tried to establish that the recommendation made in favour of the private-respondent 4, who has only the capability of raising 500 crores, is arbitrary.
13. Mr. Rao, submits that his client is having an investment of thirty thousand crores in a steel plant. The writ petitioners have sufficient experience in the field, but the case of the writ petitioners was not considered on arbitrary considerations.
14. Mr. Rao submits that in Geomin’s case, the Supreme Court of India called for the records, examined the records in detail and made certain observations. Therefore, he submits that this Court should issue notice and examine the records as to whether the process of recommendation was proper or improper.
15. We are bound by the decision of the Supreme Court of India in Geomin’s case, that the recommendations ought not to have been permitted to be challenged before the High Court as such challenge would be premature. The Supreme Court of India observed that the High Court would be committing grave error in entertaining such writ petitions.
16. Prima facie, we feel that, although there is some substance in the submissions of Mr. Rao, we would not entertain these writ petitions in view of the decision in Geomin’s case.
17. However, in the event, when the recommendation is made by the Central Government in favour of the respondent 4, certainly the writ petitioners shall be entitled to challenge the same by taking all points.
18. It is for the Central Government to consider the representations of the petitioners drawing attention of the Central Government regarding alleged irregularities in making the recommendation. We, however, express no opinion.
19. Therefore, the writ petitio
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ns are dismissed as premature without going into the merits of the claims and the counter claims of the parties. 20. All contentions of the parties are left open. 21. We reiterate and clarify, as requested by Mr. Rao, learned Senior Advocate for the petitioners, that if at all the recommendation is made in favour of the private-respondent 4, it will be open for the petitioners to challenge such recommendation, in accordance with law. 22. We make no order as to costs.