PANAJI: The Goa Government’s plan to allow resumption of iron ore mining activities in the State have been shunted down by the Supreme Court by dismissing the review petition challenging it’s earlier order of February 2018, that had set aside the renewals granted to 88 leases.
The devision bench of the Supreme Court under Justice Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah while dismissing the plea of the State Government as well as the Vedanta Limited has said that it finds “no ligitimate grounds” for the review.
The Goa Government delay of 20-26 months to file the review petition challenging the Supreme Court order dated February 7, 2018 was the major ground for dismissal as the bench rules that the judgement needs to be challenged within 30 days from the time of its delivery.
The Supreme Court had in February 2018 set aside the second renewal granted to 88 mining leases terming it as “illegal” while directing the State to initiate fresh process for grant of leases. State was asked to explore auction as one of the alternative to grant leases.
Accordingly, the mining activities in the State came to standstill from March 15, 2018 onwards.
The State government in November 2019 filed a review petition challenging the Apex Court verdict, while Vedanta filed it in 2020. The petitions were challenged by the Goa Foundation, the petitioner in whose case the 2018 verdict was delivered.
” In accordance with Rule 2 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,” the bench observed.
“No cogent grounds have been furnished for the delay between 20 and 26 months by the two parties in filing their applications for review,” it added.
The Court further pointed out that the judges comprising the two-judge bench in Goa Foundation matter, Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, retired from the Court on 30 December 2018 and 6 May 2020, respectively.
The State of Goa preferred 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, it noted.
“Such practise must be firmly disapproved to preserve the institutional sanctity of the decision making of this Court. The review petitioners were aware of the decision of this Court,” the Bench said.
“Keeping in mind the above, we are inclined to dismiss these review petitions on the ground of limitation alone,” it ruled.
“we also find that nolegitimate grounds for review of the judgment in Goa Foundation II have been made out, and dismiss these review petitions on merits as well,” it ruled further.