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