Tamil Nadu

Madras High Court restrains Sterlite from reopening copper plant in Thoothukudi

The Sterlite copper plant in Thoothukudi on November 28, 2018.

The Sterlite copper plant in Thoothukudi on November 28, 2018.   | Photo Credit: N. Rajesh

The Madurai Bench of the court directed that status quo will continue till January 21 and ordered the State to inform by then whether it intended to file an appeal against the tribunal verdict.

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Friday ruled that the status quo “as on today” shall be maintained in respect of reopening Vedanta Limited’s closed Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi. 

The court wanted to ascertain Tamil Nadu’s stance on the order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) setting aside the Government Order to close down the plant on charges of causing pollution. A Division Bench of Justices K.K. Sasidharan and P.D. Audikesavalu observed that the State had a statutory period till March 14, 2019 to file an appeal against the NGT order before the Supreme Court. 

“Let the State make a decision before the [High] Court as to whether any decision is taken to file an appeal before the Supreme Court in the case,” the Bench said. The court ordered notice to the respondents in the case and adjourned the case for further hearing to January 21

 

The court had earlier accepted to hear the plea filed by Prof. R. Fatima of Thoothukudi, one of the activists who spearheaded the anti-Sterlite protests, on the grounds of maintainability. It observed that prima facie, she was correct in her contention that she had been denied an opportunity to make a mention before the tribunal as the order was "uploaded" [on the NGT website] and not "pronounced".

The petitioner sought a direction to quash the NGT order and claimed that it was violative of natural justice and without jurisdiction. The order suffered from several procedural defects, violated principles of natural justice and was patently wrong on both facts and law, she contended.

Representing the petitioner, senior counsel R.Vaigai urged that the order be declared null and void as it was not "pronounced" in the open court. It was not even listed, but directly uploaded on the website.

Ms. Vaigai said that the petitioner was not allowed to submit her case before the NGT on merits. Also, now it would not be possible for the petitioner to file an appeal before the Supreme Court as she was not furnished with the documents relied on by the tribunal for deciding the appeal.

‘Will move SC’

Apprehensive about whether the State would appeal against the NGT’s order, she sought status quo in the case till the disposal of the petition or at least till the State filed an appeal before the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Sterlite Copper CEO P. Ramnath separately said that the company would move the Supreme Court to help implement the NGT order, in early January.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 10:21:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/madras-high-court-restrains-sterlite-from-reopening-copper-plant-in-thoothukudi/article25800108.ece

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