Case Title: A.H. Sheriff v. State of Kerala & Ors.
Case No: WP(C) No. 33324 of 2023
Decided on: 3rd January, 2024
CORAM: THE HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE MURALI PURUSHOTHAMAN
Facts of the Case
The petitioner submitted Ext.P1 application dated 28.05.2019 before the District Collector for more than four years for grant of No Objection Certificate (NOC) for quarrying granite from revenue puramboke land. Ext.P5 Government Order bringing comprehensive guidelines for grant of NOC for mining of minerals from Government land was issued on 28.01.2021. The application of the petitioner was rejected by Ext.P4 order dated 21.09.2023, much after the issuance of guidelines in Ext.P5.
The case of the petitioner is that his application has to be considered on the basis of the law prevailing at the time of submission of the application and Ext.P5 order issued subsequently cannot be relied upon to reject the application. The learned Senior Government Pleader would contend that the petitioner has no vested right to have his application considered applying any particular provision and that he has not approached this Court before issuance of Ext P5 order, seeking a direction to consider his application for NOC.
- Whether the application for grant of NOC has to be dealt according to the law prevailing at the time of submission of the application or rules in force at the date of disposal of the application?
- Whether the applicant of NOC has a vested right to have an application for grant of NOC to be dealt with in a particular way, by applying particular provisions?
Court’s analysis and decision
The Hon’ble High Court of Kerala has relied on State of Tamil Nadu v. M/s. Hind Stone and Others [(1981) 2 SCC 205: AIR 1981 SC 711] while dealing with this writ petition. In Hind Stone case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that the action of the Government in keeping applications for lease pending for long and later, rejecting them by applying a rule made subsequently, is not open to challenge. The Court observed that no one has a vested right to the grant of lease and none can claim a vested right to have an application for grant of lease to be dealt with in a particular way, by applying particular provisions and that in the absence of any vested right, the application has necessarily to be dealt with according to the rules in force as on the date of disposal of the application despite the fact that there is long delay since the making of the application.
Though there is inordinate delay on the part of the District Collector in considering Ext.P1 application for grant of NOC for mining of minerals from Government land, since during the pendency of the application Ext.P5 Government Order has been issued providing comprehensive guidelines for grant of NOC, the application of the petitioner has to be considered in the light of Ext.P5. Ext.P5 Government Order is not under challenge in this writ petition. There is no direction sought for and obtained by the petitioner from this Court for an early consideration of Ext.P1 application before issuance of Ext.P5 Government Order. As held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the petitioner has no vested right to seek Ext.P1 application to be considered by applying the procedure as applicable before the issuance of Ext.P5.
The writ petition fails and is, accordingly, dismissed.
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Written by- Afshan Ahmad