Tamil Nadu

Respond to plea filed by mining firms: HC to DGFT

Petition seeks nod to export minerals

The Madras High Court on Monday directed the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) to file its counter affidavit by August 21 to a petition filed by private beach sand mining firms in the State, seeking permission to export minerals following a ban imposed by the State government.

Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and N. Seshasayee issued the direction after advocate Srinath Sridevan, representing mining firm V.V. Minerals, impressed upon the need for the DGFT to file its counter at the earliest and insisted on an early hearing of related cases since the State’s beach sand mining operations have been in limbo for quite a few years.

Advocate Krishna Srinivasan, representing Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL), stated that his client had already filed a counter affidavit and opposed the plea until the court passes necessary orders on a suo motu public interest litigation petition taken up by it in 2015 regarding alleged illegal mining on a large scale.

The permission for export had been sought on the basis of DGFT’s August 21, 2018 notification making certain amendments to the export policy. As per the notification, export of beach sand minerals, such as ilmenite, rutile, leucoxene (titanium bearing mineral), zircon, garnet, sillimanite and monazite (uranium and thorium), should be channelled through IREL.

However, IREL, in its counter affidavit, pointed out that those desirous of exporting beach sand minerals must follow stipulations laid down in the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) laid down by DGFT. As per the SOP, every exporter must submit an undertaking that their business dealings had not been banned by any government authority.

“When the ban on mining and stoppage of transport permits is still in force (in Tamil Nadu), the furnishing of such undertaking by the petitioner would not be possible and if at all furnished by the petitioner, the same would need an authentication by all relevant agencies,” IREL’s General Manager (Legal) K. Suresh said in the affidavit.

He went on to state: “Moreover, I am also informed that a suo motu public interest litigation petition on the illegal mining by private operators is itself pending before this honourable court for a decision. Pending the same, any action as contemplated in the notification would be possible only after the issue of illegal mining is decided by this court.”

During the course of hearing on Monday, Additional Advocate General Narmadha Sampath brought it to the notice of the Division Bench that V.V. Minerals had approached the Supreme Court last week, making a wrong claim that the Bench as well amicus curiae V. Suresh were not happy with the hearing of the case through videoconferencing.

Disposing of their plea, the apex court passed an order to ensure that the two judges in the Bench sit together either in Chennai or Madurai and not to hear the case through videoconferencing with one sitting in Chennai and the other in Madurai.

Further, it left it to the discretion of the High Court’s Chief Justice Vijaya Kamlesh Tahilramani to take a call on the issue.

After taking note of the Supreme Court’s order, the Bench adjourned the matter to August 21 and decided to await a decision to be taken by the Chief Justice.

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Printable version | May 20, 2020 7:09:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/respond-to-plea-filed-by-mining-firms-hc-to-dgft-indian-rare-earths-limited/article28828008.ece

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