Cancellation of licences held illegal
The Delhi High Court last week quashed the order passed by the controller general under the Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, whereby he cancelled all exploration licences granted to several mining companies. The cancellation was justified by the Ministry of Mines on the ground that some blocks were overlapping with the onshore area, and thus prohibited under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules. In this batch of petitions led by Standard Metalloys Ltd vs Union of India, the firms argued that they were not given an opportunity to present their case and the CRZ argument was an “eyewash”. The court rejected the argument of the authorities regarding the overlapping of CRZ area, after examining the rules. Moreover, they had already examined the issue while executing the exploration licences in favour of the firms. The judgment said: “The issue of overlapping of some blocks is nothing but an afterthought and the reasons have been manufactured to somehow cancel the grants so that the same can be re-allocated/re-granted.” The court directed the controller general to execute the exploration licences in favour of the companies within a month.