SC rejects Goa govt, Vedanta pleas to review judgement cancelling mining leases
The Supreme Court has dismissed the review petitions filed by Goa and Vedanta Limited against a 2018 order cancelling the state government’s move to renew 88 mining leases, citing the delay in filing them and a lack of cogent grounds for it. It expressed displeasure over the timings of the pleas. The court noted Goa filed them after one of the two judges, who passed the 2018 order, retired and Vedanta when both had retired.
In February 2018, the court cancelled the renewals issued in 2015, saying they were granted in haste and without application of mind. Goa filed its review pleas over a year later in late 2019. Vedanta followed suit in 2020. Goa’s review pleas came 650 days after the Supreme Court’s February 2018 order and that of Vedanta after 907 days.
“In accordance with Rule 2 of Order XLVII of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013, an application for review of a judgement has to be filed within thirty days of the date of the judgement or order that is sought to be reviewed. No cogent grounds have been furnished for the delay between 20 and 26 months by the two parties in filing their applications for review,” a bench of justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah said in their order on July 9.
The bench pointed out the review pleas were filed after the judges, Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, who passed the original order, retired. “...Goa preferred (to file) its four review petitions in the month of November 2019, after Justice Madan B Lokur’s retirement, while Vedanta Limited preferred its four review petitions in the month of August 2020, right after Justice Deepak Gupta’s retirement. Such practice must be firmly disapproved to preserve the institutional sanctity of the decision making of this Court,” the bench said.
“The review petitioners were aware of the decision of this court… we are inclined to dismiss these review petitions on the ground of limitation alone. However, in any event, we also find that no legitimate grounds for review of the judgment in Goa Foundation II have been made out and dismiss these review petitions on merits as well.”
In 2015, Goa Foundation, an NGO, and four petitioners Rama Velip, Tulsidas Shaba Velip, Abhijit Prabhudesai and Dinanath Gaonkar filed two petitions challenging the renewal of leases. They argued why were not fresh leases granted and cited the lack of an auction and a host of violations in the renewal of the environmental clearances.
Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant said that the state government would “honour” the Supreme Court’s verdict.
“The Supreme Court... said that it is being dismissed because of delay (in filing the review). I took charge (as chief minister) in March 2019 and the delay of seven months was before I took charge...” he said.
“We are already in the process of forming a (state-run) mining corporation, the Bill will be passed in the upcoming monsoon session of the Assembly... We will restart mining... I have asked the director of mines to work on this. Some leases will be through corporation and some will be auctioned. It will be fast tracked,” Sawant said.