Judicial scrutiny not excluded even if mining lease granted as per law; Govt can't arbitrarily give away hill for exploitation: Madras High Court

31st May,2021

Judicial scrutiny not excluded even if mining lease granted as per law; Govt can't arbitrarily give away hill for exploitation: Madras High Court


The Madras High Court has declared that natural resources such as hills and hillocks cannot be leased away for mining without public interest considerations (K Santhanam and anr v. The District Collector, Virudhunagar and ors). Even if mining licences are obtained in accordance with statutory regulations, mining activity carried out under those licences will be subject to court review, according to Justice GR Swaminathan. We live in a democratic country. It is not within the power of the current government to hand away hills and hillocks for exploitation at will. Simply because the mining lease was issued in accordance with the legislative procedure does not mean it is immune from court review. Hills and hillocks cannot be given away for mining unless there are compelling public interest factors," the ruling issued on April 26 read. The Court made the statement while ordering a halt to mining and quarrying activities on a 30-meter hillock in Rajapalayam, Virudhunagar district's Thiruppani hilltop. While dismissing arguments offered in defence of the hillock's exploitation, the Court also cautioned that the environmental effects of such exploitation is sometimes not realised until it is too late. The Government cannot give Poramboke territory away for private exploitation unilaterally. Nature's methods are enigmatic. We didn't learn about mangrove trees until after the tsunami hit that they operate as natural barriers against such oceanic onslaughts. Storms were never a problem in a particular District since a hill range served as a protective barrier. The court stated that the recent tragic events in Uttarakhand are a direct result of the construction of massive dams.