HC directs director of trade, commerce and industries dept on preservation of Thoubal River petition

TMB Report

IMPHAL: A Division Bench of the High Court of Manipur on Wednesday directed to all the state government respondents in connection with PIL on preservation of Thoubal River not to permit any quarrying activity, transportation etc and particularly the respondent number 12 of the PIL Director of Trade, Commerce and Industries Government of Manipur not to grant any further prospecting lease or license provisional or regular quarrying lease or license without the leave to the court.

The direction was given by the Division Bench High Court of Manipur comprising of Chief Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar and Justice Kh. Nobin after the hearing of the PIL yesterday.

According to the High Court order it is mention that an affidavit was filed before the court on February 4 by the Director of Trade Commerce and Industries that the department has reaffirmed its decision to grant mineral concession, if in river/waterway only in unsaturated (dry) zone and by manual quarrying only. No mining concession is proposed to be given in active channel.

It was further mentioned that in a meeting chaired by Additional Chief Secretary (forest and environment) on February 3 it has been decided that PWD with submits proposals for grant of temporary permits for certain quarry sites and immediate on receipt of such proposal the Trade, commerce and industries department shall take necessary action to grant of permit

PWD in applying minor mineral concessions, a committee has also formed comprising representative from the PWD, Forest, TCI and those of respective DCS and SPs dated August 9 last year during the pendency of PIL, various applications has received applying for permit/license.

It was further mentioned in the affidavit that at present there is no registered qualified person in the state to prepare mining plan which is a prerequisite document for grant of mining leased. In order to have ready access for such persons, a notice for empanelment of such persons has been issue dated August 2 last.

However, the department has starting provisional license in some district issuing order of granting provisional lease on July 30 last year.

When division bench asked the additional AG to explain under what provision of rules the provisional quarrying lease is granted and additional AG refer to rule 4 (2) and rule 5 (1) of Manipur Minor Mineral concession Rules, 2012

The division bench observed that the said provision explain by the additional AG do not speak about the provisional quarrying lease and when the bench specifically asked the additional AG to show the rule under which provisional quarrying leased was granted

additional AG submits that he is not able to state any such rule but stated the reason for granting provisional lease is stated in para 5 of Affidavit submitted by the director of trade commerce and industries in the affidavit submits before the court.

The additional AG also stated quoting of rule 4 (2) and rule 5 (1) of Manipur Minor Mineral concession rules, 2012 was not correct for grant of provisional quarrying lease but the officer did not violate the rule 4 (2) and rule 5 (1) of Manipur Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 2012.

The Bench specific question is posed to additional AG under what provisions Manipur Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 2012 the provisional quarrying lease is granted, additional AG fairly states that it is not provided under the rule said Court order.

The division bench further observed on the basis of the stand taken by additional AG and Paragraph number 5 of the affidavit in opposition filed by Director Trade, commerce and Industries Government of Manipur are contrary to the mines and mineral (Development and Regulations) Act 1957 and Manipur Minor Mineral Concession Rules 2012.

The official respondent are required to be injuncted from proceeding any further on the basis of such order and the beneficiaries of such improper order should not enrich themselves by using the order passed in violation of law.

The court order also mention that in other aspect which pain the court is that the officer knowing fully well that the mining plan is a prerequisite document for grant of quarrying lease, has proceeded to issue five provisional quarrying lease order despite Specific court order directing them not to pass and order in violation of law.

It is further mention that it is also surprising to note that the office has knowingly violated the earlier direction of High Court and has mislead the court by stating that no lease has been granted when the earlier order were passed in the PIL.

The division bench taking serious note of the issue as a result of the glaring omission to follow the rule of law and the prima facie error which was not controverted by the additional AG and also on the bases of Paragraph number 5 of Affidavit in opposition filed by director of trade, commerce and industries which the division bench find is prima facie not justified.

As bench are inclined to pass the order of injunction restraining the official respondent from giving to five order passed by director of trade, commerce and industries, Government of Manipur and the persons who are beneficiaries of orders and their address be submitted so that they can be impleaded in the PIL and they be given any opportunity to be heard.

The director of trade, commerce and industries shall inform the beneficiaries of the five provisional quarrying leases the court directed all authorities including director of trade, commerce and industries not to permit any quarrying activity, transporting ect.

By the beneficiary or their agent on the basis of provisional orders of director of trade, commerce and industries, Government of Manipur. 

The court also make it clear that affidavit in opposition stated that some applications are pending. In order to avoid such irregularities Division Bench directed all the respondents particularly the director of trade, commerce and industries Government of Manipur not to grant any further prospecting lease or license, provisional or regular quarrying lease or license without the leave of the court.

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