HC: Can’t fine firm for not pay­ing roy­alty for Metro ex­ca­va­tion

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY -

Mum­bai: The Bom­bay high court has termed il­le­gal the state gov­ern­ment move to im­pose penalty on a firm over roy­alty on earth ex­ca­vated for Metro 3 project.

Adi­vi­sion bench of Jus­tices Anoop Mo­hta and Man­ish Pi­tale di­rected the state and its rev­enue depart­ment to de­cide on ap­pli­ca­tions filed by Tata Projects, which is im­ple­ment­ing a por­tion of the project, for re­fund of the roy­alty amount it has al­ready paid un­der protest.

“The de­mand of penalty is un­just, un­sus­tain­able, con­trary to the pro­vi­sions of (law)…there­fore, it is il­le­gal,” said the judges. “Un­less there is a clear find­ing that the said earth is used for any com­mer­cial pur­pose or that it is not used and utilised on the very same plot of land, there is no ques­tion of im­pos­ing roy­alty,” said the high court bench.

Tata Projects is part of the con­sor­tium com­pris­ing ITD Ce­men­ta­tion In­dia Ltd and Con­ti­nen­tal En­gi­neer­ing Cor­po­ra­tion which we- re given the con­tract to de­velop the Sid­dhiv­inayak to Dhar­avi stretch of the Co­laba-Seepz Metro Line 3.

The con­sor­tium was to con­struct twin tun­nels and three sta­tions at Dadar, Sid­dhiv­inayak and Shit­ladevi at a cost of over Rs 2,830 crore.

The state took re­course to the Mines and Min­er­als (De­vel­op­ment and Reg­u­la­tion) Act, and the Ma­ha­rash­tra Mi­nor Min­eral Ex­trac­tion (De­vel­op­ment and Reg­u­la­tion) Rules, and de­manded roy­alty for ex­ca­va­tion of earth. The state claimed the earth was a mi­nor min­eral un­der the law and it was en­ti­tled to roy­alty. The com­pany ap­proached the court, which re­ferred to Supreme Court judg­ments as well as rules, which stated if the earth was ex­ca­vated for a de­vel­op­ment project, and was later used for lev­el­ling at the same site, no roy­alty should be im­posed.

The high court has asked the au­thor­i­ties to de­cide within six weeks if the com­pany is en­ti­tled for a re­fund. —Shibu Thomas

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