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T.K. Venkataraman Managing Partner Sri Vignesh Granites Thimmapuram Post Krishnagiri Taluk & District v/s Government of Tamilnadu rep. By its Secretary Industries Department & Another

    Writ Petition No.4639 of 2008 & M.P.No. 1 of 2008

    Decided On, 13 February 2013

    At, High Court of Judicature at Madras

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE VINOD K. SHARMA

    For the Petitioner: S. Sadasharam, Advocate. For the Respondents: R. Ravichandran, Additional Government Pleader.



Judgment Text

(Prayer: Writ petitions filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for issuance of a writ of certiorarified mandamus calling for the records in G.O.(D) No.122, Industries (MME2) Department dated 9.10.2007, on the file of the first respondent and quashing the same and directing the first respondent to issue prospecting licence as contemplated under Rules 4, 5 and 8 of the Granite Conservation and Development Rules, 1999, following the petitioner's application dated 18.7.2000, for prospecting licence with respect to an extent of 1.00.0 hectare of land in Survey No.287, Veeramalai Village, Pochampalli Taluk, Dharmapuri District for a period of two years.)

1. The petitioner prays for issuance of a writ in the nature of certiorari to quash the order dated 9.10.2007, passed by the Industries Department of Tamil Nadu Government vide G.O.(D) No.122 declining the request of the petitioner for the grant of prospecting licence.

2.The impugned order reads as under:

"ORDER:

In the reference first read above, Thiru T.K.Venkatraman, Dharmapuri District (now Krishnagiri District) has applied for grant of prospecting licence for granite in Government poramboke land over an extent of 1.00.0 hectare in S.F.No.287 of Veermalai Village, Pochampalli Taluk, Dharmapuri District (now Krishnagiri District) for a period of 2 years.

2. The District Collector, Dharmapuri District (now Krishnagiri District) / Director of Geology and Mining have recommended the prospecting licence application of Thiru T.K.Venkatraman, Dharmapuri District (now Krishnagiri) for granite over an extent of 1.00.0 hectare in S.F. No.287 of Veeramalai Village, Pochampalli Taluk, Dharmapuri District (now Krishnagiri District) for a period of 2 years for rejection on the following reason:-

At present there is no provision to grant prospecting licence in Government lands under rule 8A Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1959.

3. The Government after careful examination reject the prospecting licence application of Thiru T.K.Venkatraman, Thimmapuram, Dharmapuri District (now Krishnagiri District) for granite over an extent of 1.00.0 hectare of Government lands in S.F. No.287 of Veeramalai Village, Pochampalli Taluk, Dharmapuri District (now Krishnagiri District) for a period of 2 years on the following reason.

At present there is no provision to grant prospecting licence in Government lands under rule 8A Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1959.

4. The District Collector, Krishnagiri District is requested to take further action in the matter.

(BY ORDER OF THE GOVERNOR)

SHAKTIKANTA DAS SECRETARY TO GOVERNMENT"

3. It is pleaded case of the petitioner that the petitioner is in the business of quarrying of granite for its export and import. The grant of lease for the quarrying is regulated by the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957, and the Rules framed thereunder called Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1959.

4. In addition, the Government of India has also framed Rules for grant or renewal of prospecting licence and mining leases. These Rules have been framed under Section 18 of the Act for conservation and systematic development and scientific mining to conserve the granite resources and to prescribe uniform framework with regard to systematic and scientific exploitation of granite throughout the country.

5. It is the case of the petitioner that under the Granite Conservation and Development Rules, 1999, a provision has been made for grant of prospecting licence, which is defined under Rule 3(m) as under:

"3 (m)"prospecting licence" means a licence granted for the purpose of undertaking any operation for the purpose of exploring, locating or proving granite deposits"

6. The Rules 4, 5 and 6 read as under:

"4. Prospecting to precede mining operations:- No lease shall be granted by the State Government unless it is satisfied that there is evidence to show that the area for which the lease is applied for has been prospected earlier for granite or the existence of granite therein has been established otherwise.

5. Period of which prospecting licence may be granted or renewed:- The period for which a prospecting licence may be granted shall not exceed two years.

6. Period for which leases may be granted or renewed:- (1) The maximum period for which a lease may be granted shall not exceed thirty years.

Provided that the minimum period for which any such lease may be granted shall not be less than twenty years.

(2) A lease may be renewed for a period not exceeding twenty years.

(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-rule (2), if the State Government is of the opinion that in the interest of development of granite it is necessary to do so, it may, for reasons to be recorded, authorise the renewal of a lease for a further period or periods not exceeding twenty years in each case."

7. The petitioner by invoking the provisions of these Rules, had applied for granting prospecting licence with regard to the land measuring 1.00.0 hectare in Survey No.287, Veeramalai Village, Pochampalli Taluk, Dharmapuri District, which is the Government land.

8. It is the case of the petitioner that the District Collector without referring the matter to the State Government, rejected the application vide order dated 25.8.2000, by treating it to be pre-mature.

9. This order was challenged by the petitioner by filing W.P.No.17226 of 2000, which was accepted by this Court, with liberty to the petitioner to re-submit his application to the State Government, with further direction to the State Government to take appropriate action on the application to be made by the petitioner.

10. On the application submitted by the petitioner, the impugned order has been passed.

11. Learned Counsel for the petitioner has challenged the impugned order by contending, that the order on the face of it, is arbitrary and therefore, hit by Article 14 of the Constitution of India inasmuch as the respondent No.1 has ignored the provisions of the Granite Conservation and Development Rules, 1999, which stipulates the grant of prospecting licence before lease can be granted for quarrying of granite.

12. The impugned order is also challenged on the ground that it is an outcome of non-application of mind, as the respondent No.1 wrongly invoked Rule 8A of the Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1959, which only deals with grant of lease and not the prospecting licence. It is contended that Rule 8A has no application to the present case, therefore, the impugned order cannot be sustained.

13. The impugned order is also challenged on the ground of it being a non-speaking order.

14. The writ petition is opposed by the learned Additional Government Pleader by vehemently contending, that lease of Government land is granted for quarrying under Rule 8A of the Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1959, which does not stipulate grant of any prospecting licence. The Government was therefore, right in rejecting the application for want of provisions to grant prospecting licence.

15. It is also the stand of the learned Additional Government Pleader, that in any case, the petitioner does not have any absolute right to claim prospecting licence over the land belonging to the Government, as it is for the Government to take a decision as to whether the quarrying operation can be carried out in the land belonging to the Government, or not and after such decision is taken, then a lease is granted by auction, which does not require prospecting licence as contended by the learned Counsel for the petitioner.

16. On consideration, I find no merit in this writ petition. Though apparently the reading of Granite Conservation and Development Rules, 1999, shows that for grant of a lease to quarry, there should be a prospecting licence with the person, but, when seen in depth, it is not so, as it is only in th

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e Rules framed with regard to the grant of lease for quarrying of minerals in ryotwari land, that reference is made to prospecting licence, whereas no such licence is required under Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules dealing with the Government land. 17. The petitioner could have succeeded only in case his request was with regard to prospecting licence over the ryotwari or patta land belonging to a private party, and not qua the Government land. 18. Once it is not disputed that the petitioner was seeking prospecting licence over the Government land, no fault can be found with the impugned order stipulating that no prospecting licence is required for grant of lease under Section 8A of the Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules. The writ petition therefore, is totally misconceived. 19. No merit. Dismissed. No costs. Consequently, connected MPs are also dismissed.
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