Mining more than specified means paying additional royalty

The ruling by a division bench comprising chief justice Hrishikesh Roy and justice AK Jayasankaran Nambiar that the mining lease holders who have paid consolidated royalty to the state government do not have the right to extract minerals above the quantity specified in the lease agreements smacks of ignorance about the industry. It is for this reason perhaps that the Madras High court appointed Amicus Curiae to assist them. The fact that this so called expert who is supposed to be objected played the role of an activist is a matter of concern. Given all this the bench has to rely on its own knowledge to pass judgements of such nature.

In the judgment authored by justice Nambiar for the bench, the division bench said,

“It is to be noted that the lands in question in these appeals are all puramboke lands, over which the Government have granted limited rights by way of quarrying lease to the appellants herein. In our view, when the appellant exceeds the permission granted to them under the grants, they effectively resort to an unauthorized extraction since the grant has to be seen as the authority on the basis of which they can extract minerals from Government land up to the specified quantity. This being the case, we are of the view that mere payment of a consolidated royalty by the appellants will not detract from the fact of unauthorized extraction to the extent it is in excess of the permitted quantity specified in the grant. The appellants, having admittedly resorted to extraction over and above the quantity permitted in the grants issued to them, have necessarily to bear the legal consequences that would result from such unauthorized extraction, both under the Kerala Minor Mineral Concession Rules as also under the Kerala Land Conservancy Act. “

Earlier the Director of Mining and Geology Department had exempted quarrying units from paying additional royalty after having paid consolidated royalty. The court did not take this charitably and chided the State Government and advised them to ensure that circulars of such nature not be issued without proper investigating and scientific approach.

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