Facts of the Case
In the given judgment, two Writ Petitions were heard. The issue was whether the applications made by nine applicants could be considered for the grant of quarrying lease. Further, by the order dated 20.06.2018, it was held that only the private Respondent party was eligible under the rules of Karnataka Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1994. In the impugned order, it was stated that the other applications were overlapping and thus, the Respondent’s application was given priority. Thus, only the respondent’s applications were allowed by rejecting other applicants.
Submission by the Petitioners
The learned counsel of the Petitioners had submitted that it was incorrect that only one applicant had qualified out of ten applicants as all of them were eligible as per the required rules in the concerned case. It was pointed out that provisions of the said Rules were amended with effect from 12.08.1016. Further, it was submitted that the ‘no objection certificate’ obtained by the respondents would benefit all the applicants.
Grounds of Challenge
The submissions of the Petitioners were challenged by the Respondent’s counsel. The counsel pointed out the language of the said rules and stated that a No-Objection certificate was required to gain a grant of quarrying lease for minor pink granite land. It was highlighted that it was only the respondent party who had the aforesaid certificate and thus, it was the only applicant whose application was completed in all aspects. Therefore, it was submitted that no other applicants were eligible.
The Karnataka High Court, in respect to the application of the Petitioners and the Respondent, observed that they all were ineligible as all applications pending as of 12th August 2016 were rendered ineligible as per the rules. They had raised the concern that the applications were covered by exceptions carved out in the rules. The court had stated the object of the ‘no objection certificate’ and pointed out that it was to ascertain whether the land was subject to any prohibition on quarrying under the forest and environment laws. Therefore, it was concluded by the court that the no-objection certificate was qua land and not qua the applicants. Further, it was pointed out that if such interpretation was not accepted then the actions of licensing authorities would be vulnerable to allegations of violation of Article 14. Additionally, the court had highlighted the priorities mentioned in Rule 12. Finally, the Court observed that the approach of the State Government was incorrect.
The two-judge bench of the Karnataka High Court had partly allowed the Writ Petition and the impugned order was set aside, while ordering the State Government that application should be considered afresh following the law and the new order should be passed before the end of September 2021.
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