The Supreme Court today dismissed the appeal filed by the Vedanta Ltd against a Bombay High Court order concerning their alleged mining rights in Goa for a period of 50 years, that is, till the year 2037, despite earlier Supreme Court judgements cancelling their leases for good.
Thereafter, the Court also dismissed a writ petition by former mining lease holder Geetabala Parulekar filed under Article 32 of the Constitution which canvassed similar grounds. The Parulekar writ petition was filed by Fomento.
Earlier, on 9 July 2021, the Supreme Court had already dismissed a batch of review petitions filed by the Goa government and by Vedanta against its judgement dated 7.2.2018 cancelling the grant of second renewal for 88 mining leases in the state of Goa.
For those who may want some more detail:
On 29.10.2019, Vedanta wrote to the Goa government demanding extension of their mining lease deed to enable them to carry on mining operations till 2037. The company argued that they were entitled to a 50 year period on their lease, after the amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act, 1957 came into force on 12.1.2015.
The Goa government agreed with their standpoint, but expressed inability to extend the lease deed due to the judgement passed by the Supreme Court dated 7.2.2021 cancelling the 88 mining lease renewals and directing grant of fresh leases and environmental clearances.
Thereafter, on 19.11.2019 (that is, on the same day they received the order of rejection), Vedanta filed a writ petition (No.1005/2019) before the Bombay High Court at Panaji. A division bench of Justice Mahesh Sonak and Justice Prithviraj Chavan dismissed the petition on 25.11.2019, expressing inability to grant relief in view of the same SC judgement dated 7.2.2018 cancelling 88 leases.
It is in response to the High Court’s dismissal that Vedanta filed an SLP which was dismissed by the Supreme Court today. This was the first dismissal. Thereafter, the Court took up the second matter, filed by Geetabala Parulekar.
It appears that Geetabala Parulekar had also filed a similar representation the same month before the Goa government demanding lease extension till the year 2037. This was also rejected by the Goa government. Unlike Vedanta, Parulekar did not move the High Court but filed a writ petition directly in the apex court. That petition too was dismissed by the Supreme Court today. The Supreme Court express negative feelings about corporates using Article 32 to plead such issues before it.
During the proceedings it was edifying to hear the Supreme Court judges reading from the judgement passed by Justice Lokur and Gupta on 7.2.2018. Justice Chandrachud read out all those paras which indicated that every mining lease holder had been engaged in one or other illegality during mining operations.
These two petitions were the final straw to which the mining lobby in Goa was hanging on to in desperation. Already, the review petitions filed by the Goa government and Vedanta against the SC judgement dated 7.2.2018 had been dismissed by the Supreme Court with a brief order in July 2021. After the dismissal of the review petitions, it was apparent that the appeals and petitions filed by Vedanta and Parulekar would also be interred in the same grave.
With this development, the rule of the private mining industry and its lobbies – which held sway over the sector for more than 50 years – has come to an inglorious end.
Dr Pramod Sawant, our thoroughly worthless and ineffective mines minister, kept postponing action on the mining resumption front solely to ensure, by hook or by crook, that these leases could be returned to the same leaseholders to loot. He has failed. He should go, together with the rotten mining bunch. Good riddance of bad rubbish, as the proverb goes.
Adv. Prashant Bhushan, assisted by Adv. Pranav Sachdeva, appeared for the Goa Foundation in both matters.