In a major setback to Odisha Government, the High Court on 16.01.2015 slapped an interim stay on the operation of the recent decision to auction all mines in the State, barring coal.
Adjourning the hearing on a batch of writ petitions, challenging the government’s decision, to February 4, a Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justices Indrajit Mahanti and B K Patel issued notices asking the government to file the reply.
The State Cabinet on January 5 had decided to auction all mineral leases, barring coal, to facilitate leases awaiting second and subsequent renewal
The decision to auction the mines were taken after they were closed in May last year following Supreme Court order.
A resolution to this effect was passed by the Government on January 9.
Challenging the State government’s decision, at least five mining lease holders including Mideast Integrated Steel Ltd., Aryan Mining & Trading Corporation Ltd., Kalinga Mining Corporation Ltd. and Orissa Manganese approached the High Court seeking to set aside the decision.
The main ground on which the mining companies are challenging the decision is that the government does not have the legislative or executive power to auction the mines following the enactment of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act of 2010.
The petitioners say that MMDR Act of 1957 and Mineral Concession Rule (MCR) of 1960 are the two vital laws under which mining operations are regulated in the country.