The Madras High Court on Tuesday rejected a plea by natural resources company Vedanta seeking permission to reopen its Sterlite copper smelting plant in Thoothukudi . The plant was sealed by the Tamil Nadu government on May 28, 2018 due to environmental concerns.
Justices T.S. Sivagnanam and V. Bhavani Subbaroyan dismissed all 10 writ petitions filed by Vedanta challenging various orders passed by the State government and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) refusing consent to operate, to stop production, to disconnect electricity and to seal the premises.
In their judgment running to 815 pages, the judges agreed with Advocate General Vijay Narayan for the State and senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan, representing TNPCB, that the prohibitory orders had been rightly passed for violation of the laws relating to pollution control.
After the delivery of the verdict, senior counsel C. Aryama Sundaram, representing Vedanta, urged the court to order status quo for three, or at least two weeks, so that nothing adverse takes place until the judgement could be taken on appeal to the Supreme Court.
However, the judges refused to pass any such order. The senior judge in the Bench said it may not be appropriate to add anything after they had delivered their verdict. He said, the verdict would have been delivered in March itself but for the pandemic.
He told the lawyers that the judgement was dictated to three different personal assistants over the phone before everything could be collated and corrected. It was an enormous effort, given that the lawyers argued the case for 42 days and submitted voluminous documents running to thousands of pages.