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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The High Court has rightly held that the renewal was in pursuance of the Government Order dated 26th February, 2013 which itself was in conflict with the order of the High Court in Nar Narain Mishra (supra) as reiterated in Sukhan Singh (supra). In view of order of the High Court dated 29th January, 2013 in Nar Narain Mishra (supra) all pending applications as on 31st May, 2012 stood rejected. In the case of the appellant, environmental clearance was granted on 21st September, 2012 and renewal was granted on 27th April, 2013. Orders of the High Court in Nar Narain Mishra and Sukhan Singh (supra) which are not under challenge clearly debarred the grant of lease under Chapter II after 31st May, 2012. This aspect has been dealt with in greater detail in Civil Appeal Nos.4845-4846 of 2015 titled Sulekhan Singh & Co. versus State of U.P. with which the present appeal was tagged, which is being separately decided today. Stand of the State, to the contrary, can also not be appreciated. Reference may be made to the finding recorded by the High Court in the impugned order: “A Division Bench in the case of Nar Narain Mishra v. State of U.P. and others reported in  2013 (2) ADJ 166, after interpreting the Government Order dated 31.5.2012 recorded as principle of law, that once notification has been published by the State Government in exercise of powers under Rule 23 of the Rules 1963, for vacant areas being available for grant of leases under Chapter IV of Rules, 1963, no grant/renewal on the pending applications can be made, after 31.5.2012. The State was not satisfied with the legal position so explained. It came out with a Government Order dated 26.2.2013, which provided that pending applications, for renewal/grant in respect of which orders of approval have already been made by the State Government or by the competent authority shall not be controlled by the judgment in the case of Nar Narain Mishra (Supra) such cases may be processed further. This Government Order dated 26.2.2013 came up for consideration before another Division Bench of this Court in the case of Sukkhan Singh v. State of U.P. and others reported in 2014 (11) ADJ 89. The Division Bench has held that the Government Order dated 26.2.2013 cannot deviate from the legal position, as has been explained in the case of Nar Narain Mishra (Supra). It, therefore, follows that no application which was pending on 31.5.2012 can be proceeded with for grant/renewal of lease under Chapter II/VI of the Minor Minerals Concession Rules, 1963 after 31.5.2012. The grant, if any, after 31.5.2012 can only be made under Chapter IV of the Rules of 1963 Le. by e-auction or tendering. The State and its Officers have shown little or no respect to the orders of this Court. xxx Prima facie, we find no substance in the contention raised. In our opinion, once a notification dated 31.5.2012 had been issued declaring that all the vacant areas are available for grant of lease only under Chapter IV, no lease subsequent thereto under Chapter VI could be executed. The area remains vacant till the execution of the lease deed. The Execution of the lease in the facts of the case has taken place after 31.5.2012. Mere grant/approval in our opinion will not alter the legal position.

                                 REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                          CIVIL APPEAL NO.4 OF 2016
                (ARISING OUT OF SLP (CIVIL) NO.28249 OF 2015)



RAMAKANT DWIVEDI                           …APPELLANT

VERSUS

RAFIQ AHMAD & ORS.                               ...RESPONDENTS


                               J U D G M E N T


ADARSH KUMAR GOEL, J.
Leave granted.  This appeal has been  preferred  against  order  dated  18th
June, 2015 passed by the High  Court  of  Judicature  at  Allahabad  in  PIL
No.35233 of 2015 granting an  interim  order  against  excavation  of  minor
minerals by the appellant in respect of lease  executed  in  his  favour  on
17th October, 2013.
In the impugned order, the High Court observed that  lease  granted  to  the
appellant was in violation of its judgments dated  29th  January,  2013   in
Nar Narain Mishra versus The State of U.P.[1]  and   dated  12th  September,
2014 Sukhan Singh versus State  of  U.P.[2].   In  Nar  Narain  Mishra,  the
operative part of the High Court order is as follows :
“In the result, all the writ  petitions  are  disposed  with  the  following
directions :

The  prayers  made  by  the  petitioners/applicants  for  considering  their
applications for renewal of  their  mining  leases  which  were  pending  on
31/5/2012, and the  applications  for  grant  of  fresh  leases  which  were
pending on 31/5/2012 are refused.

The  Government  Order  dated  26/7/2012  and  all  consequent  steps  taken
thereunder are quashed.

Notices issued by  the  District  Magistrate  inviting  applications  by  E-
tendering consequent to the Government  Order  dated  31/5/2012,  cannot  be
allowed to be finalized and are quashed with liberty to the  respondents  to
issue fresh notice in accordance with law.
Parties shall bear their own costs.”

According to the appellant, on 27th April, 2013, the pre-existing  lease  in
his favour which expired on 18th November, 2010,  was  renewed  for  further
period of three years upto 26th April, 2016.  Approval was granted  on  14th
March, 2011 and environmental  clearance  was  granted  on  21st  September,
2012.  It is submitted that order of the Government  dated  31st  May,  2012
was not applicable and was later withdrawn on 22nd October, 2014  and  thus,
the lease was valid.
This submission though also supported by  the  State,  cannot  be  accepted.
The High Court has rightly held that the renewal was  in  pursuance  of  the
Government Order dated 26th February, 2013  which  itself  was  in  conflict
with the order of the High Court in Nar Narain Mishra (supra) as  reiterated
in Sukhan Singh (supra).   In view of order of the  High  Court  dated  29th
January, 2013 in Nar Narain Mishra (supra) all pending  applications  as  on
31st May, 2012 stood rejected.  In the case of the appellant,  environmental
clearance was granted on 21st September, 2012 and  renewal  was  granted  on
27th April, 2013.   Orders of the  High  Court  in  Nar  Narain  Mishra  and
Sukhan Singh (supra)  which are not under  challenge  clearly  debarred  the
grant of lease under Chapter II after 31st  May,  2012.    This  aspect  has
been dealt with in greater detail in  Civil  Appeal  Nos.4845-4846  of  2015
titled Sulekhan Singh & Co. versus State of  U.P.  with  which  the  present
appeal was tagged,  which is being separately decided today.  Stand  of  the
State, to the contrary, can also not be appreciated. Reference may  be  made
to the finding recorded by the High Court in the impugned order:
“A Division Bench in the case of Nar Narain Mishra  v.  State  of  U.P.  and
others reported in  2013 (2) ADJ  166,  after  interpreting  the  Government
Order dated 31.5.2012 recorded as principle of law, that  once  notification
has been published by the State Government in exercise of powers under  Rule
23 of the Rules 1963, for vacant areas being available for grant  of  leases
under  Chapter  IV  of  Rules,  1963,  no  grant/renewal  on   the   pending
applications can be made, after 31.5.2012. The State was not satisfied  with
the legal position so explained. It came out with a Government  Order  dated
26.2.2013, which provided that pending applications,  for  renewal/grant  in
respect of which orders of approval have  already  been  made  by  the State
Government or by the competent authority shall  not  be  controlled  by  the
judgment in the case  of  Nar  Narain  Mishra  (Supra)  such  cases  may  be
processed further.

This Government Order dated  26.2.2013  came  up  for  consideration  before
another Division Bench of this Court in the case of Sukkhan Singh  v.  State
of U.P. and others reported in 2014 (11) ADJ  89.  The  Division  Bench  has
held that the Government Order  dated  26.2.2013  cannot  deviate  from  the
legal position, as has been explained in  the  case  of  Nar  Narain  Mishra
(Supra).

It, therefore, follows that no application which was  pending  on  31.5.2012
can be proceeded with for grant/renewal of lease under Chapter II/VI of  the
Minor Minerals Concession Rules, 1963 after 31.5.2012. The  grant,  if  any,
after 31.5.2012 can only be made under Chapter IV of the Rules of  1963  Le.
by e-auction or tendering. The State and its Officers have shown  little  or
no respect to the orders of this Court.

xxx

Prima facie, we find no substance in the contention raised. In our  opinion,
once a notification dated 31.5.2012 had been issued declaring that  all  the
vacant areas are available for grant of lease  only  under  Chapter  IV,  no
lease subsequent thereto under  Chapter  VI  could  be  executed.  The  area
remains vacant till the execution of the lease deed. The  Execution  of  the
lease in the facts of  the  case  has  taken  place  after  31.5.2012.  Mere
grant/approval in our opinion will not alter the legal position.

 The concern of the Court is  both,  in  respect  of  best  use  of  natural
resources  by  the State  as  well  as  for  avoiding  the  degradation   of
environment, especially near the river beds.”

5.    Last submission on behalf of the appellant is that  on  22nd  October,
2014 the State of U.P. has declared that the mining  leases  will  be  given
under Chapter II and Order dated  31st  May,  2012  was  withdrawn.  In  the
present case, lease was granted in violation of judgment of the  High  Court
as already noted. Subsequent withdrawal of the Government order  dated  31st
May, 2012 could not benefit the appellant as on the date of grant  of  lease
in favour of the appellant, the said Government order was operative.
6.    In these circumstances, we do not find any ground  to  interfere  with
the impugned interim order and leave the  issue  on  merits  to  be  finally
decided by the High Court.
7.    The appeal is dismissed.

                                                    …………..……..…………………………….J.
                                                            [ ANIL R. DAVE ]


                                                    …………..….………………………………..J.
                                                       [ ADARSH KUMAR GOEL ]
NEW DELHI
JANUARY 04, 2016
                                 REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                     CIVIL APPEAL NOs.4845-4846 OF 2015

                                    WITH

                     CIVIL APPEAL NOS.4847-4850 OF 2015


SULEKHAN SINGH & CO. & ORS           …APPELLANTS

VERSUS

STATE OF U.P.  & ORS.                            ...RESPONDENTS


                               J U D G M E N T


ADARSH KUMAR GOEL, J

1.    These appeals by special  leave  have  been  preferred  against  order
dated 6th February, 2015 in Civil  Misc.  Review  Application  Nos.5064  and
5065 of 2015 and order  dated  15th  December,  2014  in  Civil  Misc.  Writ
Petition Nos.38034, 38064, 12622 and 12663 of 2014 passed by the High  Court
of Judicature at Allahabad.


2.     The  question  for  consideration  is  whether  the  High  Court  was
justified in quashing mining lease granted in favour of the appellants  vide
orders dated 24th May, 2014 and 26th May, 2014 on the ground that  the  said
leases were granted in violation of the Government Order (G.O.)  dated  31st
May, 2012.  Under this order, mining leases  could  only  be  granted  under
Chapter IV of the U.P. Minor Minerals (Concession) Rules, 1963  (the  Rules)
by way of e-tendering in the interest of transparency and to  safeguard  the
public revenue.


3.    Appellants Sulekhan Singh and company  were  the  petitioners  in  the
High Court in Civil Miscellaneous Writ Petition Nos.  12663  of  2014.   The
appellants Manoj Kumar Sood and Makhan Singh were  jointly  the  petitioners
in the High Court in Civil Miscellaneous Writ Petition Nos. 12622  of  2014.
They sought direction for grant of mining lease.  Upon  grant  of  lease  in
pursuance of interim order in their  favour,   Mohammad  Aakil  and  Masihul
Khan private  respondents  herein,  sought  cancellation  of  mining  leases
granted to the appellants.


4.    The Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation)  Act,  1957  (MMDR)
provides for development and regulation of mines and minerals.   Section  15
provides for making rules by the State Governments for regulating  grant  of
mining leases and other matters in respect of ‘minor minerals’.   The  State
of U. P. framed the Rules in exercise of the said power.  The Rules  contain
two sets of procedure for grant of mining lease.  Chapter IV  of  the  Rules
provides for grant of lease by auction while Chapter II provides  for  grant
of lease otherwise than by way of auction.  Prior to  31st  May,  2012,  the
leases were being granted in the State of Uttar Pradesh  under  Chapter  II.
G.O. dated 31st May, 2012 changed this practice, providing that:


“To bring transparency in connection of approval  of  mining  lease  in  the
state, the decision has  been  taken  to  grant  lease  through  e-tendering
system by inviting tenders  under  the  provisions  of  chapter-4  of  Uttar
Pradesh Minor Minerals (Concession) Rules, 1963.  By this step,  by  lifting
the minor minerals on remission, the transparency would increase  and  along
with that competition would take place and  due  to  that  State  Government
would get maximum rate.”


5.    The above change of policy appears to be consistent with the  position
of law that State largesse ought to be distributed by non  arbitrary  method
consistent with Article 14 of the Constitution[3].


6.    It is a matter of  public  knowledge  that  the  Government  of  India
appointed a Commission of Inquiry consisting of Shri Justice  M.B.  Shah,  a
former Judge of this Court, inter alia, to enquire into the deficiencies  of
management and  regulatory  and  monitoring  systems  on  account  of  which
illegal mining could not be tackled, vide notification dated 22nd  November,
2010.  The Commission was  also  to  suggest  remedial  measures.  The  said
Commission gave  its  reports,   including  report  dated  March,  2012  (in
respect of State of Goa), June, 2013 (in respect of  the  State  of  Odisha)
and October, 2013 (in relation to the State of Jharkhand).   In  its  report
for the State of Goa, the Commission  found  that  procedure  for  grant  of
lease/renewal of lease  required  streamlining  for  transparency.   It  was
further suggested that the authority to decide the applications should be  a
committee headed by Additional Chief Secretary  (instead  of  a  lower  rank
officer) and should also have representatives  from  Departments  of  Mines,
Revenue, Forest and Environment.  It was also suggested that  mining  leases
should be granted  by  public  auction  for  transparency  and  increase  in
revenue of the State and also to check corruption/favoritism.


7.    In its report submitted in June, 2013, in relation  to  the  State  of
Orissa, referring to a letter of the Chief Minister of Orissa, it was  inter
alia observed by the Shah Commission:


“Competitive bidding should be the general methodology for  grant  of  lease
of the finite valuable national resources.”


8.    These developments led  to  policy  changes  to  ensure  fairness  and
transparency in allotment of mineral concessions and optimal utilization  of
mineral resources through  sustainable  mining  practices.   Policy  changes
include 2015 amendment to the MMDR and amendments to rules by  some  of  the
States, providing for auction as predominant way of giving mining leases.


9.    The G.O. dated 31st May 2012, passed by the State of U. P. came to  be
challenged before the High Court inter alia on the ground that  applications
already made prior to 31st May, 2012 were required to be dealt with  without
applying the G.O. dated 31st May, 2012. This plea was rejected by  the  High
Court vide its judgment dated 29th January, 2013 in Nar  Narain  Mishra  Vs.
The State of U.P.[4].   Special leave petition filed against the High  Court
judgment was dismissed by this Court[5].  The Division  Bench  of  the  High
Court relied upon judgment of this Court in State of  Tamil  Nadu  Vs.  M/s.
Hind Stone[6]  and held that pendency of  application  did  not  create  any
vested right for the application being considered otherwise than by  way  of
order dated 31st May, 2012.  The High Court upheld the stand  of  the  State
which was as follows :


“The State stand is that there is no  inviolable  rights  of  renewal  in  a
lease and the right of  consideration  of  the  renewal  and  the  claim  of
renewal of the lease have to be dealt with in accordance with the  Rules  as
existing at the relevant  time.  It  is  submitted  that  declaration  under
Chapter IV having been issued all areas stand notified for settlement  under
Chapter IV, the renewal of lease cannot be  granted  since  renewal  can  be
granted only in accordance with the procedure prescribed  under  Chapter  II
which provision is no more applicable. When the State issued the  Government
Order on 31.5.2012 applying the same to all vacant  areas,  it  intended  to
apply the Government  Order  on  the  areas  which  were  not  occupied.  No
exception has been provided in the Government order exclude out those  areas
in respect of which renewal applications are  pending.  An  application  for
renewal of lease is in essence an application for grant of  lease  and  same
principle has to be applied with regard to applications  which  are  pending
for grant of lease and  on  similar  analogy,  if  the  submissions  of  the
petitioners are to be accepted those areas on which applications  for  grant
of lease have been submitted should also be  kept  out  of  purview  of  the
Government  Order  dated  31.5.2012.  No  such  intention   or   object   is
decipherable from the  Government  order.  By  subsequent  Government  Order
dated 5.9.2012, the State Government has provided  that  those  areas  where
renewal has been sanctioned or granted on or before 5.9.2012, shall  not  be
settled under Chapter IV.”


10.   The High Court also rejected the objection that the order  dated  31st
May, 2012 was required to be confined only to “Boulder” and did  not  extend
to “Building Stone”.  It was observed :


“Government Order dated 31/5/2012, uses the  word  "Boulder".  However,  the
Government Order dated 31/5/2012, does not confine  to  the  word  "Boulder"
which is found in the Riverbed. The word  "Boulder"  can  be  used  for  the
minerals which is found in the Riverbed as well  as  the  mineral  which  is
found "In situ rock deposit". Petitioner's case  in  the  writ  petition  is
that since the word "Boulder" is found only in the Riverbed, the  Government
Order dated 31/5/2012, does  not  cover  "Imarti  Patthar"  is  misconceived
since the Government Order  dated  31/5/2012,  does  not  confine  the  word
"Boulder" to one which is found in the Riverbed. In this context a  look  of
1st Schedule and 2nd Schedule to the Rules, 1963 makes  it  clear  that  the
word "Boulder" is included in the heading "Building Stone" as well  as  when
found in mixed form in the Riverbed.”


11.   Further, following the judgment of this  Court  in  Deepak  Kumar  Vs.
State of Haryana[7], the High Court directed that  measures  for  protection
of environment as noted by this  Court  be  adopted  while  granting  mining
leases.


12.   The High Court held that no direction for grant of  a  lease  contrary
to G.O. dated 31st May, 2012 could be issued and cancelled all  applications
pending on 31st May, 2012.  The concluding part of the  order  of  the  High
Court is as follows :


“In the result, all the writ  petitions  are  disposed  with  the  following
directions:


The  prayers  made  by  the  petitioners/applicants  for  considering  their
applications for renewal of  their  mining  leases  which  were  pending  on
31/5/2012, and the  applications  for  grant  of  fresh  leases  which  were
pending on 31/5/2012 are refused.


xxxxxxx


 Notices issued by the  District  Magistrate  inviting  applications  by  e-
tendering consequent to the Government  Order  dated  31/5/2012,  cannot  be
allowed to be finalized and are quashed with liberty to the  respondents  to
issue fresh notices in accordance with law.”


13.   Inspite of the said judgment of the High Court,  certain  leases  were
granted in violation  of  G.O.  dated  31st  May,  2012  which  came  to  be
challenged before the High Court. Reiterating  its  view,  in  its  judgment
dated 12th September, 2014 in Sukhan Singh versus State of U.P.[8],  it  was
held that no pending application  as  on  31st  May,  2012  could  be  taken
cognizance of.  It was held that :

“19.   The basic position in law is that the mere filing of  an  application
either for the grant of a lease or for the  renewal  of  a  lease  does  not
confer a vested  right  for  the  grant  or  renewal  of  a  lease  and,  an
application has to be disposed of on the basis of the rules  as  they  stand
on the date of the disposal of the application.

20.  This being the clear position in law which has been enunciated  in  the
judgment of the Supreme Court in State of Tamil Nadu (supra),  it  would  be
impermissible to accept the contention of the  fourth  respondent  that  its
applications were liable to  be  disposed  of,  not  on  the  basis  of  the
provisions of Chapter IV but under Chapter II of  the  Rules.  Besides,  the
acceptance of any such submission would be contrary to the law laid down  by
a Division Bench of this Court in Nar Narain Mishra  (supra)  which  follows
the decision of the Supreme Court.”

14.   It is in this background that the present matters were  considered  by
the High Court. To seek an exception to  G.O.  dated  31st  May,  2012,  the
appellants contended that they had already applied in  pursuance  of  notice
dated 18th July, 2009 in accordance with Chapter II  of  the  Rules.    When
the said notice was cancelled and fresh notice dated 10th August,  2010  was
issued, the appellants challenged the same.  They were  relegated  to  their
departmental remedy.  They challenged the order  passed  by  the  department
again by another writ petition and the High Court directed the matter to  be
considered vide order dated 10th February, 2012.   As  the  said  order  was
prior to 31st May, 2012, appellant acquired a  right  to  get  lease  as  an
exception to order dated 31st May, 2012.  The High Court passed  an  interim
order in their favour which led to the grant of mining leases on  24th  May,
2014 and 26th May, 2014.


15.   The stand of the appellants was held to be against  the  earlier  High
Court judgments.  Thus, after hearing finally, the High Court rejected  this
plea as follows :


“It is not in dispute that their applications for grant  of  lease  had  not
been disposed of prior to the date of declaration made under Rule 23 (1)  of
the Rules of 1963 and they had been granted the  lease  by  means  of  order
dated 24.05.2014  and  26.05.2014,  after  the  date  of  declaration,  i.e.
31.05.2012.  In Nar  Narain  Mishra’s  case,  this  Court  held  that  those
petitioners, who have claimed mandamus for directing consideration of  their
lease renewal application, which were pending on  31.05.2012  could  not  be
granted any relief.  Similarly applications for grant of fresh  lease  under
Chapter II of the Rules, 1963, which were pending on 31.05.2012  could  also
not be directed to be considered.


In Public Interest Litigation (PIL)  No.31643  of  2014,  Sukhan  Singh  vs.
State of U.P. & 3 others.  This Court has considered  the  judgment  of  the
Hon’ble Supreme Court rendered in Deepak Kumar’s case  (supra)  as  well  as
judgment of this Court in Nar Narain Mishra’s  case  (supra)  and  has  held
that “The basic position in law is that the mere filing  of  an  application
either for the grant of a lease or for the  renewal  of  a  lease  does  not
confer a vested  right  for  the  grant  or  renewal  of  a  lease  and,  an
application has to be disposed of on the basis of the rules  as  they  stand
on the date of the disposal of the application.”


16.   Additionally, the appellants also argued  that  the  G.O.  dated  22nd
October, 2014 cancelled G.O. dated 31st May, 2012  and  decided  to  proceed
with the grant of mining leases under Chapter II instead of Chapter IV.   It
was submitted that in view of change of policy, G.O. dated  31st  May,  2012
could not be taken into account. This plea was also  rejected  by  the  High
Court as the amended policy dated 22nd  October,  2014  could  not  be  made
applicable to the grant of lease at a time when the said revised policy  was
not in force.  The High Court observed :


“Through supplementary affidavit, the respondent no.2 and 3 have brought  on
record the 37th Amendment of the Rules of 1963, which is called  “The  Uttar
Pradesh Minor Mineral (Concession) (37th Amendment) Rules, 2014”.


By this amendment, several directions  issued  by  this  Court  as  well  as
Hon’ble Supreme Court have been  incorporated.   The  State  Government  has
also issued a Government Order dated 22.10.2014 whereby provisions 2, 3  and
6 of the Rules of 1963 have been  made  applicable.   The  Government  Order
also requires a fresh exercise  for  grant  of  lease  under  the  terms  of
Government order dated 22.10.2014 as well as under the  provisions  of  37th
Amendment of the Rules of 1963.   Several  subsequent  developments  in  the
matter as has been made as discussed above, do not lead  us  to  permit  the
respondents no.4 and 5 to operate their leases further.”


17.   When the matter came  up  for  consideration  before  this  Court,  an
interim order dated 15th May, 2015 was passed permitting the  appellants  to
operate the mining leases in question.    This appears to be on  account  of
the fact that the State of U.P. supported the stand  of  the  appellants  by
filing affidavit dated 13th April, 2015 and submitted that “Building  Stone”
were not covered by G.O. dated 31st May, 2012.  We now find that this  stand
is clearly contrary to the judgment of the High Court in Nar  Narain  Mishra
(supra).


18.   On the other hand,  Respondent  No.4,  the  original  writ  petitioner
before the High Court, has filed an affidavit  objecting  to  the  grant  of
leases in favour of the appellants under Chapter II and supported  the  view
taken by the High Court.  In its counter affidavit dated 8th May, 2015,  the
said respondent has pointed out that in view  of  earlier  judgment  of  the
High Court in Nar Narain Mishra and Sukhan Singh (supra)   grant  of  mining
lease under Chapter II was not permissible. The G.O. dated  31st  May,  2012
covered “Building Stone” also.  It was also submitted that mining  lease  of
less than five hectares was not permissible in  view  of  judgment  of  this
Court in Deepak Kumar (supra) which also rendered lease  in  favour  of  the
appellants illegal.  It is further pointed out that Special  Leave  Petition
(Civil) No.35075 of 2014 filed against the judgment  dated  12th  September,
2014 of the High Court of  Judicature  at  Allahabad  in  Sukhan  Singh  was
dismissed by this Court on 5th January, 2015.


19.   We have considered the rival submissions and perused the record.


20.    The plea of the appellants that they  had  acquired  a  vested  right
prior to G.O. dated 31st May, 2012 cannot be  accepted.   Order  dated  31st
May, 2012 was issued by the State of U.P. to bring  about  transparency  and
to safeguard the Government revenue and was consistent  with  the  decisions
of this Court in Article 14 of the Constitution.  The validity  thereof  was
upheld by the High Court in Nar Narain Mishra (supra).   The  said  judgment
applied to the mineral in question as specifically laid  down  by  the  High
Court.  The High Court upheld the  stand  of  the  State  that  pendency  of
application did not create any  right  in  favour  of  the  appellants.  All
applications pending as on 31st  May,  2012  stood  rejected  including  the
application of the appellants.  Admittedly, the appellants did not  make  an
application after the changed policy dated 22nd October, 2014 and  thus  the
said G.O. had no application to the present case.  We are  not  called  upon
to decide validity of order dated 22nd October,  2014  in  cancelling  order
dated 31st May, 2012.  This question can be gone into as and when raised.


21.   In Hind Stone (supra), this Court observed:

“13. Another submission of  the  learned  counsel  in  connection  with  the
consideration of applications for renewal was that applications  made  sixty
days or more before the date of GOMs No. 1312 (December 2, 1977)  should  be
dealt with as if Rule 8-C had not come into force.  It  was  also  contended
that even applications for grant of leases made  long  before  the  date  of
GOMs No. 1312 should be dealt with as if Rule 8-C had not come  into  force.
The submission  was  that  it  was  not  open  to  the  government  to  keep
applications for the grant of leases and applications  for  renewal  pending
for a long  time  and  then  to  reject  them  on  the  basis  of  Rule  8-C
notwithstanding the fact that the applications had been made long  prior  to
the date on which Rule 8-C came into force.  While  it  is  true  that  such
applications should be dealt with within a reasonable  time,  it  cannot  on
that account be said that the right to have an application disposed of in  a
reasonable time clothes an applicant for a lease with a right  to  have  the
application disposed of on the basis of the rules in force at  the  time  of
the making of the application. No one has a vested right  to  the  grant  or
renewal of a lease and none can claim a vested right to have an  application
for the grant or renewal of a lease dealt  with  in  a  particular  way,  by
applying particular provisions. In the  absence  of  any  vested  rights  in
anyone, an application  for  a  lease  has  necessarily  to  be  dealt  with
according to the rules  in  force  on  the  date  of  the  disposal  of  the
application despite the fact that there is a long delay since the making  of
the application. We are, therefore, unable to accept the submission  of  the
learned counsel that applications for the grant of renewal  of  leases  made
long prior to the date of GOMs No. 1312 should be dealt with as if Rule  8-C
did not exist.

22.   Reiterating the decision in Hind Stone (supra), this Court  in  Monnet
Ispat & Energy Ltd. vs. Union of India[9] held as under:


“132. ……Minerals—like rivers and forests—are a  valuable  natural  resource.
Minerals constitute our national wealth  and  are  vital  raw  material  for
infrastructure,  capital  goods  and  basic  industries.  The  conservation,
preservation and intelligent utilisation of minerals is not  only  the  need
of the day but is also  very  important  in  the  interest  of  mankind  and
succeeding generations. Management of minerals  should  be  in  a  way  that
helps in the country’s  economic  development  and  which  also  leaves  for
future generations to conserve and develop  the  natural  resources  of  the
nation in the best possible way. For the proper development of  economy  and
industry,  the  exploitation  of  natural  resources  cannot  be   permitted
indiscriminately;  rather  the  nation’s  natural  wealth  has  to  be  used
judiciously so that it may not be exhausted within a few years.


133.…………..No person has any fundamental right to claim  that  he  should  be
granted mining lease or  prospecting  licence  or  permitted  reconnaissance
operation in any land belonging to the Government. It is apt  to  quote  the
following statement of O. Chinnappa Reddy, J. in Hind  Stone  (SCC  p.  213,
para 6) albeit in the context of minor mineral,


“6. … The public interest which induced Parliament to make  the  declaration
contained in Section 2 … has naturally to be the paramount consideration  in
all matters concerning the  regulation  of  mines  and  the  development  of
minerals”.


He went on to say: (Hind Stone case, SCC p. 217, para 10)


“10. … The statute with which we  are  concerned,  the  Mines  and  Minerals
(Development and Regulation) Act, is aimed … at  the  conservation  and  the
prudent and discriminating exploitation of minerals. Surely, in the case  of
a scarce mineral, to permit exploitation by the State or its agency  and  to
prohibit exploitation by private agencies is the most  effective  method  of
conservation and prudent exploitation. If  you  want  to  conserve  for  the
future, you must prohibit in the present.”


23.   It was further observed :


“182.7. The doctrine of promissory estoppel cannot be invoked  in  abstract.
When it is sought to  be  invoked,  the  court  must  consider  all  aspects
including the result sought to be achieved and the  public  good  at  large.
The fundamental principle of equity must forever be present to the  mind  of
the court. Absence of  it  must  not  hold  the  Government  or  the  public
authority to its promise, assurance or representation.”

                 xxxx

188.3 Where the decision of an authority is founded in  public  interest  as
per executive policy or law, the court would be reluctant to interfere  with
such decision by  invoking  the  doctrine  of  legitimate  expectation.  The
legitimate expectation doctrine cannot  be  invoked  to  fetter  changes  in
administrative policy if it is in the public interest to do so.”


24.   In view of the above, we do not find any merit in these  appeals.   We
also do not approve the stand  of  the  State  of  U.P.  in  supporting  the
appellants, as already mentioned.


25.   Accordingly, the appeals are  dismissed.   Interim  order  granted  by
this Court stands vacated.   The State will assess the extent  of  pecuniary
advantage taken by the appellants under the interim order  and  recover  the
same from the appellants.




                                                    …………..……..…………………………….J.
                                                            [ ANIL R. DAVE ]

                                                    …………..….………………………………..J.
                                                       [ ADARSH KUMAR GOEL ]
NEW DELHI
JANUARY 04, 2016

-----------------------
[1]

       2013(2) ADJ 166
[2]    2014(11) ADJ 89
[3]
       (2012) 3 SCC 1 Centre for Public Interest  Litigation  Vs.  Union  of
India; (2012) 10  SCC  1   Natural  Resources  Allocation,  in  Re,  Special
Reference No.1 of 2012; (2014) 9 SCC 516 Manohar Lal  Sharma  Vs.  Principal
Secretary  and  (2014) 6 SCC 590 Goa Foundation Vs. Union of India
[4]    2013(2) ADJ 166
[5]    SLP (Civil) No.14372/2013, dismissed on 3.3.2014.
[6]    1981 (2) SCC 205
[7]    2012 (4) SCC 629
[8]    2014 (11) ADJ 89
[9]    2012 (11) SCC 1

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