In an order, the Supreme Court of India has cancelled 88 mining leases granted by the Goa Government for violating procedure and ordered that fresh licences to be granted through a bidding process.
Speaking about the order, a bench headed by justice Madan B. Lokur said that these leases, which were renewed for the second time, would run till March 15 after which they would lapse.
The Court said the government’s process of renewing the mining permits was “in violation of law”. It also directed setting up of a special investigation team (SIT), which would include a chartered accountant, for recovery of money the companies made after the mining permits were renewed.
This entire event took place in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which was filed by the Goa Foundation in 2015, questioning the lease renewal.
Also speaking on the case, the Goa Foundation’s lawyer Prashant Bhushan had said that the state’s policy did not conform to the apex court’s line on optimum utilization of natural resources. The state government should have taken the auction route instead of renewing the permits. All permits were renewed before the ordinance came into force, with 31 leases being renewed on January 12, 2015.
According to the petition, 56 leases were reissued between January 6 and 12, shortly before the ordinance was passed. The petition named 20 miners in total. Some of these companies had earlier moved the Bombay High Court seeking directions for the Goa government to grant a second renewal of mining leases.
It was on their petition that the Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court on August 13, 2014 directed the government to execute second renewal of leases in favour of the companies that had paid the stamp duty.