A Writ Petition was filed in the Karnataka High Court under Article 226 and Article 227 of the Indian Constitution. The petition challenged the constitutional validity of the provisions of Karnataka Minor Mineral Concession (Amendment) Rules, 2016.
Facts of the Case
The petitioner is the owner of Patta land in the old Mysuru area. His property comprises granite deposit. He claims to have an absolute right over the sub-soil mineral granite found on his land. He also claims to have a right to excavate and transport subject to getting a transport permit. But, he claims that the amendments by the Karnataka Government have taken away the rights of the Patta landholders in Ex- Mysuru area. Specifically, to carry on quarrying operations seeking no permission from the government.
The petitioner submitted the request to mandate the pattadars to get working permission or license for quarrying operation of the subsoil mineral vesting in the amounts so as to keep in mind the usurping of rights of the owner of the minerals.
He drew the Court’s attention towards the State of Karnataka v. Dundamada Shetty. In this case, the Court held that the Patta landowner of Ex- Mysuru area may quarry granite in their subsoil. That too, without any restriction from the State Government.
He contended, the Amendment Rules of 2016, seeks to enhance the royalty more than once within three years. But, subsection (3) of section (15) of Mines and Minerals (Development and
Regulation) Act, 1957 restricts royalty enhancement over one time.
The Counsel for the respondent submitted that the Government brought the amendment for efficient implementation of mining and environmental laws.
He also submits that the decision in State of Karnataka v. Dundamada Shetty case is no more a good law. As held in the State of Meghalaya v. All Dimasa Student Union, DIMA HASAO, the government has the power to frame any law for regulating excavation of the minerals vesting with any person other than the State Government.
The Court kept the rights of pattadars in Ex- Mysuru area of Karnataka in consideration. They are also the owners of the minerals in the subsoil.
The Court observed that full-bench decision in the Dundamada Shetty case on Subsection (1) of Section (4) of the Minors and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 is no longer a good law.
Subsection (1) of Section (4) will apply to cases where the owner of the land who is the owner of the mineral himself wants to win the minerals. It holds the same in the light of the recent decision of the Apex Court in the State of Meghalaya.
The Court considered the validity of a provision of Sub-rule (1) of Rule 32 of Karnataka Minor Mineral Concession Rule, 1994. The rule seeks to get a license to carry out quarrying activities. The Court observes that the rule applies to the owners of Patta land who are the owner of subsoil mineral granite. The rule is not unconstitutional and does not take away the rights of ownership of pattadars. It will only ensure that they carry quarrying activities carefully, on the liability to pay royalty.
The Court observed that the enhancement of royalty made in the year 2014 and 2016 are in separate block period. Thus, there is no merit in the contention about the enhancement of royalty.
In light of the petitioners challenge to Sub-rule 5 of Rule 42, the Court observed that it imposes the time limit in the view to avoid exploitation of permits given to transport. Hence, there is no illegality accompanied with it. Moreover, there is an arrangement for providing extension or renewal of such permit by the competent Authority.
The Court held that the pattadars of Ex- Mysuru area who have ownership rights in granite or any other mineral in subsoil covered by the first proviso to Section 38 of the Mysuru Land Revenue Code, 1888 will continue to have ownership rights over such minerals.
Moreover, the Court held the Sub-rule (1) of Rule 32 of the Karnataka Mineral Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1994, as amended with effect from 12th August 2016 is valid.
Rule 3-C, Sub-rule (4) of Rule 6 and Sub-rule (1) of Rule 47 of Karnataka Minor Mineral Concession Rule, 1994 were struck down only to a limited extent.
Sub-rule (10) and fourth proviso to Rule 36 shall not apply to cases where the owner of the land, who is the owner of the mineral himself wants the win the minerals in Ex- Mysuru area. Whereas, they declare all other provisions which are subject matters of challenge in the writ petition as constitutional.
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