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Illicit Extraction of Mines & Minerals amounts to Theft Under Section 379 IPC: Kerala High Court

Illegal extraction of mines and minerals, without a requisite permit or in violation of the permit conditions, will amount to theft under Section 379 of the Indian Penal Code. This auspicious judgment was passed by THE HIGH COURT OF KERALA in the matter of Shybi. C.J vs. State of Kerala and others [WP(C).  No.10387 OF 2020(W)] by the Honourable Mr Justice V.G.Arun.

In this case, one Shybi CJ had filed a complaint before the Police alleging that the accused, in the guise of conducting a granite, quarry and crusher unit in the name and style “M/s.Four Star Granites Ltd”, is extracting granite far in excess of the permitted quantity and is thereby committing theft, which is an offence punishable under Section 379 of the IPC. Aggrieved by inaction of the police, he approached the High Court by filing a writ petition.

Relying on a recent Supreme Court decision in Jayant vs The State of Madhya Pradesh, learned counsel for the petitioner, contended that illegal extraction/exploitation of natural resources will amount to theft, punishable under Section 379 of IPC. He also referred to the judgment in Kanwar Pal Singh vs The State of Uttar Pradesh in which the Apex Court rejected the contention that, sand being an immovable property as per Section 3(26) of the General Clauses Act, its excavation will not constitute the offence of theft. It was held that, on being excavated, sand loses its attachment to the earth, ergo, it becomes movable property or goods capable of being stolen.

The court while disposing of the petition held that, “The precedents aforementioned leave no room for doubt that illegal extraction of granite, without a requisite permit or in violation of the permit conditions, will amount to theft.” The court directed the respondent is to take into consideration the complaint filed by the petitioner alleging that the accused is extracting granite in excess of the permitted quantity and take further take appropriate action thereon within two weeks.

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