The Supreme Court on Friday sought to ascertain the Karnataka government's stance on a petition challenging a July, 2010, order banning the transportation of iron ore outside the state for overseas export.
Based on a petition filed by Baldota Group-owned mining firm MSPL Limited against the ban, a bench comprising Justices R V Raveendran and A K Patnaik issued a notice to the state government seeking a reply within three weeks.
The bench, however, declined to grant any immediate relief to MSPL Ltd, which complained that 6,42,706 tonnes of iron was lying unutilised in its premises due to the government's refusal to issue a mineral dispatch permit.
The Karnataka High Court had on November 19 upheld the state government's July 28 order imposing a blanket ban on the issuance of mineral dispatch permits for transportation of iron ore for overseas export.
"The petitioner has been hit very hard by the export ban order. It is a reputed company engaged in the mining and export of iron ore and is registered as an export-oriented unit," the firm said in its petition.
It further said that during the course of litigation proceedings in another case, the government itself had told the high court that all 6,42,706 tonnes of iron ore lying idle in the firm's premises had been lawfully mined.
"The additional advocate general has filed a memo in these proceedings stating that transport permit for export of this ore would be issued as soon as the ban on export is lifted," the petition said.
The company added that the state government, which has banned iron ore exports, citing provisions of the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Act, has no power to do so.
"The MMDR Act does not vest any power in the state government to impose a complete prohibition or ban on the mining, transportation or storage of minerals. The only power of the state government, even under the MMDR Act, is at best to frame rules to create a machinery to detect and prevent illegal mining, transportation and storage of minerals in individual cases," the petition said.
The petitioner further contended, "The high court, therefore, clearly erred in holding that the state government is empowered to pass the export ban order under the MMDR Act."