Facts of the case:
The petitioner was a contractor working on the tasks of PWD. He had taken land on lease for erecting a hot mix plant for executing road work. The petitioner had obtained permission from the Panchayat under Rule 68 of Kerala Panchayat Building Rules, 2019 and also obtained consent from Pollution Control Board to establish the hot mix plant under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution Act) 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution Act), 1981.
According to the petitioner, the police had intervened while leveling the work of the leasehold to erect the hot mix plant stating that the petitioner had to obtain the permission of the Geologist for carrying out the leveling work. Thus, a petition was filed observing and interdicting Geologist from interfering with the erection and operation of the hot mix plant in the land as long as the petitioner did not remove minerals from the land.
As per the petitioner, later while erecting the hot mix plant, the Secretary of the Panchayat had issued a stop memo stating that the activities carried on by the petitioner were unauthorized. A stop memo was also issued stating that the term of the permit under Rule 68 of the Rules for erecting the hot mix plant had expired and thus the petitioner was not entitled to carry out any work in the land until the permit is renewed.
The petitioner thus challenged the stop memos in the petition seeking to issue to the Secretary of the Panchayat refraining from obstructing the petitioner from erecting the hot mix plant. It was also prayed to issue a declaration stating that the activities proposed to be undertaken by the petitioner making use of hot mix plants was not within the scope of Section 233 of Kerala Panchayat Raj Act, 1994, and thus a license was not required from Panchayat under the provisions.
A writ petition was instituted by neighbors of the land where the petitioner had proposed to erect the hot mix plant for issuing a direction to the Secretary of Panchayat refraining to issue any permit to the petitioner under Rule 68 of the Rules for erecting the hot mix plant.
Arguments by the Respondents:
The Respondent (Panchayat) had submitted that no orders had been passed on the application preferred by the Petitioner for renewal of the permit. In other words, the Petitioner did not possess as on the date of institution of the writ Petition viz, 21.12.2020 a permit under Rule 68 of the Rules to erect the hot mix plant.
The Court had observed that the materials on record indicated that the Petitioner was contemplating erecting a hot mix plant temporarily to execute a road work assigned to him. As admitted by the Petitioner, he was required to obtain a permit for the said purpose from the Panchayat as provided for under Rule 68 of the Rules. It was admitted by the Petitioner that the term of the permit issued to the Petitioner under Rule 68 of the Rules had expired on 13.12.2020 and the application preferred by the Petitioner for renewal was pending.
The Court opined that in such circumstances, it was unnecessary to consider the entitlement of the Petitioner for the various reliefs sought in the writ Petition. As noted, the Petitioners in W.P.(C) No.724 of 2021 sought directions to the Panchayat to refrain from granting a permit to the Petitioner under Rule 68 of the Rules.
The Court had thus disposed of the Petition directing the fourth Respondent to consider and pass orders on the application preferred by the Petitioner for renewal of the permit issued under Rule 68 of the Rules, after affording the Petitioner, an opportunity of hearing as in W.P.(C) No.724 of 2021.
The Court had also held that this should be done as expeditiously as possible, at any rate, within one month from the date of receipt of a copy of the judgment. The hearing order could certainly be done through video conferencing. All other issues were left open.
Case: Alwyn Jose v. State of Kerala & Others
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