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Section 15 of the Mines and Mineral (Development & Regulation) Act, 1957 is exclusively reserved to the State Government and the State Government : Jammu and Kashmir High Court

In the exercise of the power to frame statutory rules in respect of minor minerals, has already promulgated the statutory rules in terms of SRO 105 of 2016 in the matter of allotment of leases and licenses of minor minerals in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. This was held in the judgment passed by a single judge bench comprising of HON’BLE MRS. JUSTICE SINDHU SHARMA, in the matter M/s New J.K. Roadways V. Union Territory of J&K and others. [CMAM No. 34/2014], dealt with an issue where the petitioner filed a petition challenging the e-auction notices issued by the District Mineral Officers of different Districts.

The grievance of the petitioner is that the Ministry of Mines, Government of India has come up with detailed guidelines issued purportedly under Section 20A of Mines and Mineral (Development & Regulation) Act, 1957 which clearly provide pre-embedded clearances before putting the mineral blocks to e-auction process.

 Learned counsel appearing for the petitioner, contended that all e-auction notices issued by the respondents are bad in the eyes of law as the pre-embedded clearances as mandated by the Government of India have not been obtained before initiating e-auction process.

The petitioner has neither participated in those e-auction, nor has he raised any grievance, as is projected in the writ petition before any authority. Confronted with the aforesaid position, learned counsel for the petitioner placed reliance on the communication of the J&K Pollution Control Board to contend that the matter had been taken at the relevant point of time with the Board.

A perusal of the communication of the Board made it abundantly clear that the grievance which the petitioner has now projected in this writ petition was never agitated before any authority including the Board. The Board vide its communication appears to have responded to the representation of the petitioner regarding the role of the Board in the matter of mining operations. The Board clarifies that for any type of mining activity, not only the environmental clearance from the competent authority is required, but consent to establish and consent to operate from the Board under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 is also a sine quo non.

 No other document, letter or communication was brought to the notice of the Court by the learned counsel for the petitioner which could demonstrate the bona fide of the petitioner with regard to raising of the grievance on the first available opportunity. No explanation has been tendered to justify the wait of about three weeks for challenging the e-auction notices. The process of e-auction appears to have proceeded further and is stated to be at the stage of finalization.

After hearing both sides, the Hon’ble High Court of Jammu and Kashmir dismissed the petition and held that the petition filed by the petitioner lacks bona fide and, therefore, this Court is not inclined to exercise its discretionary power vested under Article 226 of the Constitution.

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Judgement reviewed by – Vaishnavi Raman

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