Reversing a single judge’s order of November last, a Division Bench of the Madras High Court on Friday barred PRP Exports and PRP Granites from resuming mining operations on quarries taken on lease from the government.

It observed that the single Judge’s order permitting the companies to carry on quarrying and their business would certainly be detrimental to the investigation in the criminal cases and departmental proceedings. Such directions, the Bench said, would amount to hampering and stalling the parallel proceedings against the companies initiated on the basis of serious and grave allegations of large-scale violations and contraventions of rules and regulations.

Disposing of the writ petitions filed by the companies, a single Judge had on November 2 last year issued directions, including that the authorities should permit the companies to continue quarrying operations over the leased property strictly in terms of the lease in force. It was open to the companies to take appropriate action as per law. The authorities should release the bank accounts and allow the companies to carry on business.

Aggrieved, the State preferred the present appeals. Advocate-General A. Navaneethakrishnan said during inspection and investigation, the authorities found that the companies had been quarrying granite blocks not only in violation of the lease conditions, but also illegally quarried in government poromboke lands without any lease or permission.

Disposing of appeals filed before the Madurai Bench, a Division Bench comprising Justices K.N. Basha and P. Devadass in its common judgment said the earlier relief granted by the court to PRP Exports and PRP Granites on November 6 and January 8 this year should continue pending departmental and criminal proceedings.

As regards the order of January this year relating to payment of monthly wages to employees, workers, both skilled and unskilled and for payment of wage arrears, the Bench said if the companies were willing to pay continuously after paying the arrears, they should furnish the list of employees with respective payments to be made to them every month, to the authorities concerned.

The authorities should proceed with the departmental and criminal proceedings in accordance with law.

A portion in the single Judge’s order – that it was open for the companies to take appropriate action under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957 and the rules, if so advised – was not set aside.

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