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Souhrada Charitable Club, Represented by Its President, Akhil Augustine & Another v/s The Union of India, Represented by The Secretary To Government, The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, New Delhi & Others

Company & Directors' Information:- R C CLUB PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U45201DL2001PTC111352

Company & Directors' Information:- AKHIL INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U51109JK2000PTC002046

Company & Directors' Information:- CLUB 9 INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U15142TZ1987PTC002056

Company & Directors' Information:- INDIA CORPORATION PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U65990MH1941PTC003461

Company & Directors' Information:- K C AUGUSTINE AND CO PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U05001KL1983PTC003666

Company & Directors' Information:- AKHIL CORPORATION PRIVATE LIMITED [Under Process of Striking Off] CIN = U74900TG2015PTC098902

Company & Directors' Information:- N. K. CHARITABLE [Active] CIN = U80900DL2009NPL197027

Company & Directors' Information:- FOREST CLUB PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U55109UP2004PTC029020

Company & Directors' Information:- N K FOREST PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U74900DL2010PTC203239

Company & Directors' Information:- AUGUSTINE AND COMPANY PRIVATE LTD [Not available for efiling] CIN = U74999PY1956PTC000019

Company & Directors' Information:- N C B CLUB PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U65920MH1980PTC023447

Company & Directors' Information:- J S D FOREST LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U01122HP1997PLC020307

    WP(C). No. 38976 of 2018 (S)

    Decided On, 16 December 2019

    At, High Court of Kerala


    For the Petitioners: K. Abdul Jawad, A. Grancy Jose, Advocates. For the Respondents: R1, Premshankar, CGC., R2-R7, Aravindakumar Babu, Sr. Government Pleader, R8, Philip J. Vettickattu, Aney Paul, Advocates.

Judgment Text

A.M. Shaffique, J.

1. This writ petition has been filed in the form of a public interest litigation, inter alia, seeking the following reliefs:

“i. to issue a writ of mandamus, or any other appropriate writ, order or direction declaring that the 5th and 6th respondents have no jurisdiction to consider and pass orders on Ext.P5 application of the 8th respondent after Ext.P10 order dated 13.9.2018 by the larger bench of NGT.

ii. to issue a writ of mandamus, commanding the 5th respondent to stop all further proceedings on the application of the 8th respondent for grant of EC, as the 5th & 6th respondents lack jurisdiction to consider the same.

iii. To issue a writ of mandamus, or any other appropriate writ, order or direction, declaring that the 3rd respondent has no legal authority to permit the DEIAA & DEAC to function without jurisdiction, in violation of Ext.P10 order of NGT.

iv. to issue a writ of mandamus, declaring that the impact of all individual quarries operated on or after the date mentioned in the notification within a distance of 500 meters shall be considered as a cluster and the impact of all those quarries should be considered together and remediation etc. to be enforced considering the permissibility of the future mining on individual proposals.

v. to direct the 6th respondent to reject the Ext.P5 application, for the reason of non-suitability of the land for quarrying and for the reason of suppression of material facts.

vi. In the alternative, direct the 5th and 6th respondents to hear on Exhibits - P8 & P11 objections of the petitioners in person, before passing final orders on Ext.P5 application.”

2. The petitioners grievance is regarding the grant of Environmental Clearance without conducting proper study. Petitioners point out that the 8th respondent is conducting illegal and unscientific quarrying operations. Reference is made to the all quarrying activities being conducted by the 8th respondent under the brand name Anugraha Metals and Sand Private Limited. It is stated that earlier when the petitioner approached this court by filing W.P.(C)No.34210 of 2016 alleging illegal quarrying activities, direction has been issued by this court to stop the illegal quarrying operations, conducted by 7 quarry operators. Ext.P3 is one such interim order. It is submitted that the 8th respondent has now submitted an application before the District Level Expert Appraisal Committee (DEAC) seeking to grant Environmental Clearance for Resurvey No.272/1, 2 and 3 in Block 11 of Malayattoor village. The intention is to quarry an extent of 0.7520 hectares of land. The Mining Plan submitted by the 8th respondent before the District Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA) is produced as Exts.P5 and P6. According to the petitioner, he preferred a detailed objection against the grant of Environmental Clearance to the 8th respondent and Ext.P8 dated 4.9.2018 is the said objection. In the meantime, the National Green Tribunal passed orders in O.A.No.186 of 2016 considering the validity of the litigation dated 15.1.2016 relegating the competent authority to grant Environmental Clearance in respect of certain category of industries. Ext.P10 is the order dated 13.9.2018 of the National Green Tribunal. It was, inter alia, held by the National Green Tribunal in the said interim order directing the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change to take appropriate steps to revise the procedure laid down in the impugned notification dated 15th January 2016 in terms of the directions issued by the Apex Court in Deepak Kumar v. State of Haryana and Others (2012) 4 SCC 629. According to the petitioner, in the light of the said order, respondents 5 and 6 has no jurisdiction to entertain the applications. It is in the said backdrop that this writ petition has been filed and the reliefs have been sought for.

3. In the counter affidavit filed by 8th respondent, they took up a contention that the land in respect of which the quarrying is proposed is still a Government puramboke land and was never assigned to any person and that the competent revenue authority had granted NOC, which is produced as Ext.R8(c). However, it is submitted that, after orders had been passed by the National Green Tribunal on 13.9.2018 and 11.12.2018, respondent had filed a fresh application before the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority. The said application is pending consideration. There is a procedure to be followed by the said authority and once such procedure is followed there is no reason the petitioner should be heard in the matter. It is also submitted that the petitioner had obtained other clearances and that the respondent had not suppressed any matter as alleged by the petitioner.

4. Reply affidavit has been filed by the petitioner to which, a rejoinder has also been filed. There is no dispute about the fact that as matters stand now neither District Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA) nor the District Level Expert Appraisal Committee (DEAC) has any jurisdiction to grant Environmental Clearance. It is for the State Authority to decide the matter. The procedure for taking such a decision is by the competent authority, which is prescribed under Clause 8 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006. When a detailed procedure had already been prescribed by the authority, necessarily said procedure requires to be followed by the State authority as well, including all relevant factors. As far as hearing of the third party is concerned, no such procedure is required to be followed by the rules. Under such circumstances, the claim of the petitioners that t

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hey should also be heard in the matter cannot be sustained. Insofar as the substantial contention of the petitioner has already been taken note, on account of the fact that the 8th respondent had filed fresh application before the State authority, nothing further survives to be considered in the present writ petition. In the said circumstances, we do not think that any directions are required to be passed in the present writ petition. However, nothing prevents the petitioner from challenging any such Environmental Clearance being granted on valid grounds before the appropriate forum. Writ petition is disposed of accordingly.