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Samaja Parivartana Samudaya & Ors. v. State of Karnataka & Ors.

In a recent judgement, the High Court of Karnataka decided an important question of law arising out of recent amendments to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (“MMDR Act”) which provides for the transfer of existing clearances to auction purchasers of mining leases (Section 8B).

The Court held that the provision was applicable to leases classified as ‘C’ category by the Supreme Court of India in Samaj Parivartana Samudaya & Others v. State of Karnataka & Others [(2013) 8 S.C.C. 154] and cancelled and put up for e-auction pursuant to the Supreme Court’s Orders. An auction purchaser of leasehold rights in such a lease was entitled to seek transfer of the forest clearance granted to the erstwhile lessee.

Importantly, the Court negated the State’s contention that the erstwhile lessee’s non-compliance with conditions pertaining to the provision of land for Compensatory Afforestation disentitled the auction purchaser from the transfer of the FC.

The Court also held that the two circulars issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change Union of India (“MoEF&CC”), that set out conditions for transfer of the Forest Clearances granted to erstwhile lessees to the auction purchasers were not in consonance with Section 8B of the MMDR Act. These circulars contained various stipulations that restrict the application of Section 8B and the finding will, consequently, facilitate the smooth transfer of Forest Clearances.

In sum, the Court’s judgement categorically affirms the objective of Section 8B, i.e., to ensure the continuity of mining operations and eliminate the need for repetitive applications for issuance of approvals, permissions, clearances, and the like.

A copy of the judgement is enclosed below.

Aditya Narayan, Partner, Lalia Elizabeth Philip, Senior Associate, Shubhangi Tripathi and Shrikara Chakravarthy, Associates, at Saakshya Law, Advocates represented the Petitioners in the Writ Petition.

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