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M/S. Agarwal Stone Works & Others v. State Of U.P. & Others - WRIT - C No. 26303 of 1998  RD-AH 51 (25 October 1999)
CIVIL MISC. WRIT PETITION NO.26303 OF 1998
M/s Agrawal Stone Works and four others
District Officer and others/District Magistrate, Sonbhadra & Ors.
CIVIL MISC. WRIT PETITION NO.32593 OF 1998
M/s. B. Agrawal Stone Products Private Limited
District Magistrate, Sonbhadra and others
CIVIL MISC. WRIT PETITION NO.43725 OF 1999
M/s Kamla Stone Works and another
The District Officer/District Magistrate, Sonbhadra and others
CIVIL MISC. WRIT PETITIN NO.21745 OF 1999
Krishna Nand Singh and others
District Magistrate, Sonbhadra and others
Hon'ble Palok Basu, J.
Hon'ble R.K.Agrawal, J.
[Delivered by Hon. Palok Basu, J.]
All the four petitions relate to the alleged mining rights claimed by the petitioners in the four petitions over respective specified areas but all in one plot having No.2751, total area of which is 94 bighas 16 biswa situated in village Billi Markundi, Tehsil Robertsganj, District Sonbhadra.
Before proceeding further, it may be pointed that Krishna Nand Singh's Writ Petition (21745 of 1999) was filed in this Court as entertainable by a learned Single Judge. Sri O.P. Singh, learned counsel for the petitioner, who is also appearing on behalf of Krishna Nand Singh in Civil Misc. Writ Petition no.26303 of 1998 as newly impleaded opposite party therein, made a request and statement that the said writ petition No.21745 of 1999 be treated as cognizable by Division Bench, the office report be treated as wrong and incorrect and the writ petition be heard alongwith three remaining petitions noted above. On this statement of Sri O.P. Singh, the aforesaid writ petition No.213 of 1999 was also summoned and heard alongwith the three petitions. Counter affidavit has been filed in the said writ petition No.21745 of 1999 as also one of the other three petitions namely, Writ Petition No.26303 of 1998.
The controversy raised through these writ petitions is confined to the Mining Rights only emanating from permit or lease as was issued by the District Magistrate/ District Officials, Sonbhadra from time to time to the petitioners.
By the impugned orders the lease-deeds executed in favour of the petitioners were proposed to be cancelled and the petitioners were asked to show cause why those lease-deeds be not nullified. Aggrieved by the show-cause notice issued to them, including the one issued to Krishna Nand Singh, the petitioners have come up through these writ petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
It is not disputed that all the petitioners in these four cases challenge the show cause notices on the ground that the issue whether plot No.2751 is or is not forest area stands concluded by the judgment of the Forest Settlement Officer dated 26.7.1986 and, therefore, the raising of the same issue through the show-cause notice was uncalled for. For that reason the petitioner's writ petition was entertained and they were not relegated to the appellate authority under Rule 77 of the Mining Minerals (Concession) Rules and the counter affidavits were called.
Sri S.P. Singh learned counsel appearing for the petitioners in the three cases and Sri O.P. Singh appearing for Krishna Nand Singh's in the two petitions has been heard.
Sri Vishnu Pratap, learned standing counsel has been heard on behalf of the State and the District Magistrate, Sonbhadra and other State officials. The entire record of all the cases has been thoroughly scrutinised.
It is by now common knowledge that after the decision of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the celebrated decision in Vanvasi Sewa Ashram (Writ Petition No.1061 of 1982 and Writ Petition No.2662 of 1985), the Forest Settlement Officers in the area concerned were required and they did, on objections from persons who claimed ownership over any area and whether or not the said area was covered by the notification under section 4 of the Indian Forest Act, was to be finally adjudicated by the said Settlement Officers. This Court appointed extra Additional District Judges to deal with the matters arising out of orders which may have been passed by the Forest Settlement Officers. Under the directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court suo-motto appeals were permitted to be filed, entertained and disposed of by the Additional District Judges.
It is pleaded that there was a declaration with regard to plot no.2751, area 94 bighas 16 biswa lying in village Billi Markundi was treated as the area covered by a notification under section 4 of the Indian Forest Act. Petitioners in Writ Petition No.26303 of 1998, 3259 of 1998 and 43725 of 1999 claimed to be lease holders from District Magistrate/ Mining Officers, Sonbhadra. They also pleaded that they have established stone crushers and have been invested substantial amount for running the mines. It is strongly contended that the petitioners in the said three cases are not bothered about the alleged right of Krishna Nand Singh because even if he is owner or Bhumidhar of the said plot, the mining rights under the aforesaid Rules can be settled only by the District Magistrate/ Mining Officers, Sonbhadra and not even by the owner or Bhumidhar thereof. They have also said that the claim of Krishna Nand Singh is bogus and he is not Bhumidhar of the land, inasmuch as the question of Bhumidhari Rights being conferred upon him under the alleged order of the Forest Settlement Officer/S.D.O. dated 26.7.86 does not arise as the said officer did not have any such power. It may be mentioned here that Krishna Nand Singh and six others have made an application for impleadment in Civil Misc. Writ Petition No.26303 of 1998 which application has been allowed and they have been directed to be arrayed as opposite parties no. 6 to 12.
Krishna Nand Singh and six other petitioners alongwith him in Writ Petition No.2147 of 1999 have claimed that the respondent no. 1 i.e. District Magistrate, Sonbhadra be commanded to follow the orders dated 26.7.86 referred to above, which was passed by the Forest Settlement Officer. The order dated 29.7.93 passed by the Appellate Authority/Additional District Judge, Obra and two orders dated 30.9.94 passed by the Chairman, Board of revenue, said to be declaring the petitioners to be Bhumidhar of plot no.2751. They also prayed that the order dated 18.2.99 rejecting the representation of the petitioners be quashed and the District Magistrate be commanded not to disturb the possession of the petitioners over the area which was allotted to them under the lease deeds.
At this very stage it may be pointed out that Sri Vishnu Pratap, learned Standing Counsel has vehemently argued that the petitioners have not come up with clean hands inasmuch as they obtained an order in Writ Petition No.25505 of 1994 (Jai Ram and others v. State of U.P. and others) from the learned Single Judge to the effect that "Dispute is to be decided by the High Power Committee which may be constituted by the State Government within the specified time as directed above." The instant petitioners obtained an order in their Writ Petition Nos.31141 of 1994 and 31140 of 1994 to the effect that those writ petitions were filed and disposed of in terms of the order of the learned Single Judge dated 11.9.97 in (Jai Ram's writ petition) referred to above.
It was pointed out by Sri Vishnu Pratap that these very petitioners filed another writ petition and by order dated 7.12.98 got the two writ petitions No.41614 of 1998 and 41615 of 1998 finally disposed of with the directions that the appellate authority/ Additional District Judge, Obra should decide suo motto appeal Nos.155 of 1994 and 156 of 1994 within four months from the date of production of certified copy of the order in accordance with law.
It was, thus, contended that two type contradictory orders existed on record which made it impossible for the Additional District Judge to choose either of them because both were orders issued by this Court.
In the counter affidavit filed by the State and the other contesting respondents, it has been specifically stated in paragraphs 34,35 and 36,relying upon the earlier averment in para 27 thereof, that lease deeds granted to the petitioners and all others with regard to the aforesaid plot no.2751 were wholly illegal, unsustainable and without jurisdiction apart from being in the teeth of the orders of the Hon'ble Supreme Court and this Court and until finality was attached on the point as to whether plot no.2751 was segregated from the forest area notification and did not form part of the forest area, no lease could be granted. It has, thus, been also averred that on the given situation, the lease could be granted only after obtaining permissions from the Central Government, if it was to be ever granted and that having not been done there was no question of complying with the lease deed which was unexecutable on the facts and in law both.
There is one more occasion when this Court records it respectful amazement that even the matter related to District Sonbhadra and the immediate impugned order passed was that of the District Magistrate, Sonbhadra, one M/s Prakash Stone Works filed writ petition before the Lucknow Bench of this Court (Writ Petition No.63/MB-1999) which was entertained and an interim order was initially granted and finally disposed of on 27.1.1999 by a Division Bench in the Lucknow Bench. Even earlier to that three other writ petitions arising out of the District Sonbhadra had gone to the Lucknow Bench, all of them have been finally disposed of
In Civil Misc. Writ Petition No.63/MB-99, the Lucknow Bench of this Court have by its aforesaid order dated 27.1.99 required the District Magistrate, Sonbhadra to decide the representation of those petitioners.
Krishna Nand Singh himself has filed yet earlier writ petition No.34823 of 1998 in this Court which was disposed of at the admission state on 15.7.99 by a Division Bench consisting one of us (Hon.Palok Basu and Hon. Ikramul Bari, JJ.) directing the District Magistrate to decide the representation of the petitioner, Krishna Nand Singh which was said to be pending.
The impugned order dated 18.2.9 has taken note of all the directions issued by the Court of Lucknow Bench from time to time and rejected the representatjion of the petitioners by a well reasoned order holding that the representations filed by M/S Prakash Stone Works, through Bhanu Prakash Gupta and that of Krishna Nand Singh, were without any force. The principal reason set out by the District Magistrate was that until two appeal Nos.155 of 1994 and 156 of 1994 was finally decided by the Additional District Judge, Sonbhadra, there was no question of treating the plot no.2751, area 94 Bighas 16 biswa to be out of forest area notification.
Though, Sri S.P. Singh as also Sri O.P. Singh has taken the Court through each and every document which has been filed by them, they have failed to indicate any reason why the District Magistrate's order should not be upheld.
Prima-facie the lease deeds do not confer any ownership right over the land. In so far as the mining rights through the lease deeds are concerned, those can be conferred only in accordance with the provisions of the law and the rules keeping in view the directions issued by the Hon'ble Supreme Court and this Court from time to time.
In nutshell, therefore, the argument of Sri Vishnu Pratap, learned standing counsel is that the suo motto appeals No.155 of 1994 and 156 of 1994 pending before the Additional District Judge, Sonbhadra, have to be decided first and sustained. In this view of the matter, there is no force in the arguments of the learned counsel for the petitioners, that the order dated 26.7.1986 has become final and on that basis the lease-deeds in their favour should be permitted to be followed and acted upon.
It is, therefore, directed hereby that the aforesaid appeals No.155 and 156 of 1994 shall be decided by the Judge concerned within two months of the production of the certified copy of this order by either party.
All the writ petitions, therefore, stands disposed of with the aforesaid directions and all the interim orders stand vacated.
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