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SRI BHARGAVI GRANITES INDUSTRIES PVT. LTD. VERSUS GOVT. OF INDIA

    W.A. 2048 of 2001

    Decided On, 11 February 2002

    At, High Court of Andhra Pradesh

    By, THE HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE DR. AR. LAKSHMANAN & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE Y.V. NARAYANA

    For the Appearing Parties: M.Chandrasekhar Rao, N.Paramesvara Reddy, Advocates.



Judgment Text

AR. LAKSHMANAN, C.J.


( 1 ) AS similar questions of fact and law are arising in these two writ appeals, they are considered and disposed of together by this common order with the consent of parties.


( 2 ) WRIT Appeal No. 2047 of 2001 is directed against the order passed in W. P. No. 23017 of 2000 dated 28. 8. 2001 passed by a learned single Judge of this Court - G. Raghuram. The relief sought for in the writ petition is for issuance of a writ of certiorari calling for the proceedings No. 35205/r3 (2)/92 dated 11. 7. 2000 and to quash them as being illegal, arbitrary and violative of Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution and consequently to direct the respondents to implement the proceedings in Memo No. 21163/m. II (1) 97-13 dated 30. 10. 1999. The said writ petition was contested by the respondents therein. The writ petition was disposed of by the learned Judge on the ground that the appellant - writ petitioner has not challenged either the orders issued in G. O. Ms. No. 23, dated 22-2-1999 or the prospecting licence issued by the State Government to the A. P. M. D. C. The learned Judge held that the reasons stated by the third respondent, Director of Mines and Geology in rejecting the quarry lease application of the appellant-petitioner have not been demonstrated to suffer from any infirmity or illegality warranting interference. The writ petition was dismissed accordingly. The writ appeal was filed by the unsuccessful writ petitioner.


( 3 ) IT was urged in the grounds of appeal that the action of the Government in keeping the application of the appellant pending for a period of nine years pleading that the land is required for animal husbandry and later on that the land is reserved for State Government itself for mining operations and subsequently selling the land to A. P. M. D. C. without offering land to the appellant is mala fide and not valid. It was further urged that the total extent of land is Ac. 268. 70 cents out of which prospecting licence was granted to A. P. M. D. C. in respect of 36. 042 hectares only and the remaining land is available for granting lease to the appellant whose application is earliest in point of time.


( 4 ) WRIT Appeal No. 2048 of 2001 was filed by the very same appellant impleading the Government of Andhra Pradesh represented by Secretary to Industries and Commerce Department, Director of Mines and Geology and A. P. Mining Development Corporation Limited.


( 5 ) THE appeal was filed against the judgment in W. P. No. I190 of 2001 dated 29. 8. 2001 passed by the same learned Judge. The writ petition was filed by the appellant herein to declare the tender Notification in tender dated 4. 1. 2001 so far as it relates to an extent of Ac. 68. 86 cents in S. Nos. 55/3, 55/3c and 55/3a of R. L. Puram, Cheemakurthy Mandalam, Prakasham district as illegal and without jurisdiction and contrary to the directions of the Government in the revision Order dated 30. 10. 1999. A consequential prayer was also made for directing the respondents to grant quarry lease of Ac. 68. 86 cents in S. Nos. 55/3, 55/3c and 55/3a of R. L. Puram village, Cheemakurthy Mandal, Prakasham district for quarrying granite mineral by the petitioner-appellant. This writ petition was disposed of by the learned Judge along with two other writ petitions - W. P. Nos. 20609 and 25959 of 2000 by a common judgment. The learned Judge dismissed the said writ petition by a well considered and well reasoned order with particular reference to the provisions of law and also with reference to the case law on the subject.


( 6 ) THE learned Judge dismissed the Writ Petition No. 1190 of 2001 on the ground that the appellant petitioner has not either pleaded or shown to the Court that they have made an application for prospecting licence under the current regulatory environment consequent on the 1999 Rules or that any application was made prior to the applications for prospecting licence by the A. P. Mineral Development Corporation. There is thus nothing on record, pleaded, urged or demonstrated substantiating the petitioner's claim to a prioritized consideration vis-?is A. P. Mineral Development Corporation for the grant of a prospecting licence in their favour in respect of the lands in S. Nos. 55/3a, 55/3c and 55/3 of R. L. Puram village, Cheemakurthy Mandal, Prakasham district. In the writ petition it was urged that the order of the Government dated 30. 10. 1999 was illegal and void in so far as it relates to the alienation in favour of third respondent for various reasons. It was urged that the Government should have granted the lease to the appellant-petitioner based on his application dated 19. 7. 1991 for granite lease and that the Government cannot keep the application of the petitioner appellant pending on some ground or the other for about nine years from 19. 7. 1991 to 30. 10. 1999 and alienate the land in favour of the third respondent therein in GO. 23 dated 22. 2. 1999 and then reject the application of the appellant on the ground that the land was alienated to the third respondent and was not available and that the conduct of the Government is mala fide in trying to find ways' and means for rejecting the application of the petitioner appellant. It was also submitted that the Government should have granted the lease of Ac. 68. 86 cents in favour of the appellant and should have alienated the remaining land to the third respondent. It was also submitted that the application of the petitioner-appellant dated 19. 7. 1991 for granting quarry lease being the earliest than the application of the third respondent dated 11. 11. 1994, the Government should have given preference to the appellant in granting the lease.


( 7 ) THE writ petition was contested by the respondents 1 and 2 viz. , the Government of Andhra Pradesh and Director of Mines and Geology by filing a separate counter-affidavit through the Joint Director of Mines and Geology. It was submitted that the appellant has not obtained the consent of the owner. i.e., A. P. M. D. C. Limited for grant of the lease in their favour and that the A. P. M. D. C. Limited has paid the required amount to Animal Husbandry Department and the Government have transferred the lands in favour of A. P. M. D. C. Ltd. , and they became the owner of the land and that keeping in view the contention of the petitioner in W. P. No. 3145 of 2000 that inspite of giving the revisional orders the Director of Mines and Geology, the quarry lease application dated 19. 7. 1991 was disposed of after issuing of show-cause notice and passed orders to that effect on 11. 7. 2000. It was also contended that preference would be given to pattadar or consent holder for grant as per Rule 12 (3-A) of APMMC Rules, 1966 and that the appellant company failed to produce the consent of the pattadar and hence their application was filed earlier to the application of the third respondent.


( 8 ) A separate counter-affidavit was filed by the third respondent - A. P. Mineral Development Corporation Limited stating that the respondent Corporation in the best interest of the conservation of the mineral and for scientific mining has called for tenders for formation of joint venture for exploitation of this rare mineral. The appellant having chosen not to participate in the tender inspite of the communication of the Corporation is precluded from filing the writ petition. It was also urged that the appellant has no vested right to be granted lease of the area purchased by the respondent No. 3-Corporation.


( 9 ) WE have already referred to the findings of the learned single Judge in rejecting the writ petition. In the appeals, it was urged by the learned counsel for the -appellant - Sri Mowa Chandrasekhar Rao that the third respondent cannot implement the order of the Government by giving an opportunity to the appellant to participate in the joint venture and the third respondent could have allowed the Government to implement the other conditions in the revisional order dated 30. 9. 1999 by granting quarrying lease m respect of Ac. 68. 86 cents in S. Nos. 55/3a, B and C of R. L. Puram out of total extent of Ac. 268. 70 cents of land alienated to third respondent in G. O. Ms. No. 23, dated 22. 2. 1999. It was argued that the learned Judge should have held that alienation of the land to third respondent without offering and giving an opportunity to the appellant to purchase Ac. 68. 86 cents of land is illegal, opposed to principles of natural justice and not binding upon the appellant. It was submitted that Rule 4 of the Granite Conservation and Development Rules, 1999 provides that no prospecting licence is necessary if the existence of granite is otherwise established and therefore, the learned Judge should have held that respondents 1 and 2 considered the application of the appellant for granting quarrying lease which culminated in the order of Government in revision dated 30. 9. 1999 after being satisfied about the existence of granite in the land applied for and no further application for issuing prospecting licence is necessary under the Rules. It was also urged that the appellant is not bound to challenge the validity of G. O. 23, dated 22. 2. 1999 since it was issued behind the back of the appellant without notice and without offering Ac. 68. 86 for sale to the appellant.


( 10 ) AT the time of hearing, the learned counsel has urged that the appellant has the legitimate expectation. The respondent Government is expected to honour their statements of policy or intention and treat the citizens with full personal consideration without any iota of abuse of discretion. It was in this context, the counsel submitted that the doctrine of legitimate expectation was evolved which has today become a source of substantive as well as procedural rights. It was urged that the purported of exercise of power would amount to abuse or excess of power. The learned Advocate-General in reply submitted that the ground of legitimate expectation was not taken either in the writ petition or in the grounds of appeal or that was argued before the learned single Judge, but it has been taken for the first time only at the time of hearing of the appeals. The learned Advocate-General submitted that the appellant has no vested right for grant of lease in the land purchased by the respondent Corporation. The contention of the appellant that the Corporation has no right to grant quarry lease to a third party is absolutely misconceived.


( 11 ) THE learned Counsel for the Corporation submitted that the respondent Corporation acquired the rights by way of purchase of the entire land of Ac. 268. 70 cents including the land in S. Nos. 55/3, 55/ 3a and 55/3c and paid a total amount of Rs. 256. 30 lakhs to the District Collector, Prakasham district towards the land compensation and for development of infrastructure facilities at the new site at Chadalawada which was identified for shifting the Cattle Breeding Farm and thus, the Corporation has become the owner of the entire land. It is submitted that the Corporation issued a tender notification in all editions of Eenadu on 6. 1. 2001 and in all editions of Economic Times on 8. 1. 2001 inviting bids from the interested parties for prospecting and quarrying of Galaxy Granite in joint venture with A. P. M. D. C. in 8 blocks on offer in R. L. Puram village, Chimakurthy Mandal of Prakasham district including the area of Ac. 45. 66 cents in S. No. 55/3c. The last date for submission of bids was 31. 1. 2001. A total of 6 bids for Block VII and 4 bids for Block VIII were received and the covers containing EMD and response against the minimum qualifying criteria were opened on 31. 1. 2001 at 15. 00 hours and 16. 00 hours respectively. The Corporation circulated copy of the tender notification to M/s Bhargavi Granite Industries (P) Ltd. , With regard to S. No. 53/3a, the Corporation issued a tender notification in August/ September, 2000 inviting bids and M/s Pallava Granite Industries (P) Ltd. , Chennai was the successful bidder. The Corporation entered into project Cooperation and Investment Agreement with M/s Pallava Granite Industries (India) Limited, Chennai on 31. 11. 2000 for the area of Ac. 18. 00 cents in S. No. 55/3a. The impugned tender notification did not contain the land in S. No. 55/3a. It was submitted that on the request of the Corporation and keeping in view the health hazards due to mining of Galaxy Granite by the private parties near to the Cattle Breeding Farm, the State Investment Promotion Board at its 15th meeting held on 18. 12. 1997 agreed for shifting of the Cattle Breeding Farm and for grant of quarry lease to APMDC in principle subject to the condition that joint venture should be promoted on the basis of international bidding following transparent procedure. With a view to exploit the unique Galaxy Granite deposits in scientific way and or maximization of wealth to the State, the Corporation invited bids from the parties, who are having previous experience in Granite quarrying and/or processing and having Rs. 300 lakhs turnover per annum for the past three years of which Rs. 150 lakhs shall be from granite operations. The Corporation has kept that condition as the successful bidder needs to incorporate a new company and invest Rs. 165 lakhs as equity in the new Company to undertake scientific exploitation of Galaxy Granite. In pursuance of the orders of the Government I in revision dated 30. 10. 1999, the Corporation addressed a letter to the petitioner to participate in the tender called for formation of joint venture. The appellant having been given an opportunity to participate in the tender cannot now allege any illegality to the action of calling for tender for quarrying Galaxy Granites in joint venture.


( 12 ) WE heard the Counsel appearing for the respective parties and perused the pleadings and also the orders enclosed-in the annexures both in the writ petitions and the writ appeals.


( 13 ) IN our opinion, both the appeals are misconceived. In our view, the appellant has no legal right of any kind in view of the orders passed. The revisional order on which the appellants is no longer relevant. Even by the time the revision was disposed of, the Government had taken a decision for the transfer of the concerned area from the Animal Husbandry Department to APMDC. It is indicated in the revisional order that the APMDC may consider the appellant's case if it is planning to set up any joint venture for exploitation of granite. The legal position therefore is: 1. APMDC is the owner (Pattedar) of the area in regard to which the petitioner seeks a quarry lease; 2. APMDC desires to exploit the area and has secured a prospecting licence from the Government; 3. The Government have granted prospecting licence to APMDC for these areas vide proceeding Nos. 37218/r3 (2)/92 dated 23. 5. 2000 and No. 31380/r3 (2)/94, dated 5. 8. 2000 of the Director of Mines and Geology. 4. Grant to APMDC is in accordance with the Sub-rule (3-A) of Rule 12 of the A. P. Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1966 which reads that notwithstanding the order of preference contained in Sub-rule (3), the pattadars or their consent holders shall be given preference for grant of quarry leases in respect of the patta lands. In the instant case, the appellant has not challenged the Government orders granting prospecting licence to APMDC. Calling for tenders is merely a consequential proceeding to the grant of prospecting licence to APMDC. Without challenging the basic order, the appellant has no legal right to challenge the consequential order in the writ petition. Thus, the appellant is no longer in a position to secure the consent of the pattedar, he cannot question the grant of prospecting licence to APMDC. The writ petitions and the writ appeals in our opinion are therefore misconceived. The appellant having not chosen to participate in the tenders inspite of specific intimation, is precluded from filing the present writ petitions.


( 14 ) THE third respondent in their counter-affidavit furnished all the particulars in regards to the steps taken by them in quarrying the Galaxy Granites etc. The appellant has no right to challenge the notification dated 4. 1. 2001 issued by the third respondent, since the appellant's application was disposed of by the 2nd respondent much earlier to the notification dated 11. 7. 2000. The appellant has no right to question the right of the

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third respondent, to issue tender notification since the quarry lease was granted in favour of the third respondent on the ground that the said Government land was alienated by the Government through G. O. 23, dated 22. 2. 1999. Further preference would be given to the pattedar or consent holder for grant as per Rule 12 (3-A) of APMMC Rules, 1966. ( 15 ) IT is seen from the records that in the year 1992, the application has been rejected on the ground that the area is under the possession of Animal Husbandry Department and they have refused to give consent. Besides this application, number of applications have been rejected on the same ground for this area. Subsequently, the land has been alienated to APMDC Limited who have paid an amount of Rs. 256. 30 lakhs towards the compensation for shifting the cattle breeding farm to other place and also for development of Cattle Breeding farm at new place. Therefore, there is no change in the scenario except the ownership has been changed. The Supreme Court in S. L. P. No. 3146-47 of 1997 dated 17. 3. 1997 has held that the pattadar consent is mandatory before starting the mining operations in any area. By virtue of this judgment the consent of the pattedar is a must to enter into the area and conduct mining operations. As the petitioner failed to produce the consent letter from the owner of the land, his application for grant of quarry lease was rejected. ( 16 ) THE order of the learned single Judge is perfectly in order. The reasons adduced by the learned single Judge for rejecting the relief prayed for in the writ petitions are cogent and convincing and therefore, no interference whatsoever is called for. There are no merits in the writ appeals. The writ appeals fail and are accordingly, dismissed. However, there shall be no order as to costs.
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