Mining leasehold period: Extension of the benefits under MMDR Act, in favour of leaseholders
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 114 of 2014
Bench: Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar; Justice C. Nagappan
Case Brief: It was earlier by the Apex Court, in Common Cause vs. Union of India, (2014) 14 SCC 155, restrained One hundred and two mining leaseholders from carrying on any mining operations, on the grounds that none of these leaseholders were possessing any clearances, approvals or consent, required for carrying on such mining operations. However, in furtherance which the order which was made in that court, the leaseholders who were suspended were allowed liberty to approach the Apex Court after obtaining the required clearances, approvals or consent, and the Court after satisfying the circumstances would then revoke the suspension order. As such number of applications found coming before the Apex Court where the said revocation was sought after the concerned applicants have obtained all clearances, etc. however, the learned amicus curiae which the court have appointed to Mr. A.D.N. Rao, he specifically point out that if the leaseholders would be having subsisting mining lease, then only the question of permitting them to recommence the mining operations would arose. Thus, the bench sought to ask the counsels representing the mining leaseholders, to clarify that whether they were in possession of subsisting mining lease or not. As such, the court decided to fix the parameters for determining such issue, where it said that the leaseholder would have a subsisting mining lease, if a period of the original grant is in currency. Also a leaseholder whose original lease has since expired, would have a subsisting lease, after renewal of the original lease, and such renewal period is in currency. It is pointed by the bench that the said renewal can be granted to the leaseholder any number of times under the provisions of section 8 of the MMDR Act. Further, the bench after having regard to the said provision, found that the period of subsequent renewals including, first, second, third, or further renewals could individually extend to a period of twenty years. Moreover, court further pointed that the rules made in this connection specify that the application for the renewal should be made before 12 months preceding to the end of lease period and such applications are to be disposed of within 6 months period from the date of the receipt such application, otherwise said application would be treated as deemed to have been refused. To make all such issues clear, the bench after analysing the various contentions and decisions of the higher judiciary, offered some conclusions. In the conclusions of this bench, as it has decided that the leaseholder would have a subsisting mining lease, if the period of original grant was still in currency on 12th day of January, 2015 and if any expired lease is held, then he be again have a subsisting lease, if the original lease having been renewed, the renewal period was still in currency on said date. Such a leaseholder would be entitled to the benefit of Section 8A of the amended MMDR Act. And if any A leaseholder who had not applied for renewal of a mining lease, which was due to expire, prior to said date, at least 12 months before the existing lease was due to expire, will be considered as not subsisting leaseholder, after the expiry of the lease period. Also, a leaseholder applied for the ‘first renewal’ of the original mining lease, at least 12 months before the original lease was due to expire, and it is not be rejected then he will be considered to be a subsisting leaseholder, till the expiry of two years after 18th day of July, 2014, and such leaseholders would be having the benefit of Section 8A (5)(6) of the amended MMDR Act. Also the bench considered the extension of the period of lease in such cases. Thus, in short the bench found that the State Government by an order if declares that the mining lease has lapsed, then the mining lease be deemed to be subsisting, up to the date of expiry of the lease period, given in documents. Also, if any leaseholder, while not in position to carrying on mining operations, for a continuous period of two years, the lease period will not be deemed to have been lapsed, as till an order is passed by the State Government on the applications which he had filed. If no order is passed, then the lease to be treated as extended beyond the original lease period, for 2 years further period. And when there is lapse on the part of leaseholder, then no benefit under amended MMDR Act could be extended to him.
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