In this petition, under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, the petitioner has challenged the validity of the order dated 26-12-1974 passed by tit e Central Government in exercise of its power under Rule .54 r/w Rule 55 of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 (hereinafter called the Rules).
1. The facts necessary for the disposal of this petition are as follows:-
The mining area in question is situate in Karadikolla a Forest area in Sandur Taluk, measuring, 109 acres. It is not in dispute that the third respondent was granted a mining lease in respect of the aforesaid area in question for a period of 20 years, commencing from the year 17-9-1958). The period of mining lease was to expire on 17-9-197-3. Long' before the expiry of the period, the third respondent made an application on 19-6-1970 under Rule 22 of the Rules for renewing the mining lease The State Government sought for prior approval of the Central Government under Section 8 of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957 (hereinafter referred to as the Act). The application was not disposed of by the State Government within six months as required by Rule 24 of the Rules, therefore, there was a deemed rejection of the said application under sub-rule of Rule 24 -thereof. As against the deemed rejection of the application, the third respondent preferred a revision petition to the 1st respondent on 23-8-1971. During the pendency of that revision petition, the State Government which had already sought for prior approval of the Central Government for renewing the lease in favour of the third respondent came to be informed by the Central Government that it was not in favour of renewing the lease as it was of the view that t e area in question should be reserved for exploitation' through a public undertaking. According the petitioner came to be informed the State Government by the communication dated 20-3-1972 stating that the Central Government was not in favor of renewal of the mining lease as the deposits are to exploit in, the public sector. The 3rd respondent prefer a revision petition to the Central Government on 1-4-1972 against the aforesaid communication treating it to be an order rejecting the application for reneval.
2. When these two revision petitions were pending, the lease period came to expire. Though the area in question was not thrown under Rule 58 of the Rules, nevertheless the petitioner and the 4th respondent made separate applications for grant of a mining lease in respect of the area in question. Both the applications came to be. rejected by the State Government on the ground that ' the revision petition filed by the 3rd respondent regarding the renewal of the mining lease in respect of the very area in question is pending before -the Central Government. Against this order, the petitioner as well as the 46 respondent preferred revision petitions. The Central Government has disposed of all these three revision petitions, one preferred by the 3rd respondent on 1-4-1972 and the two other revisions one each preferred by the petitioner and the 4tb respondent. The Central Government having regard to the fact that the -other areas adjoining to the area in question having been covered by the leases granted to private individuals the lease of the area in question granted to the 3rd respondent be renewed up to 4-9-1983. It is this order that is challenged in this writ petition.
3. Mr. G. Swaminathan, learned Counsel for the petitioner put forth the following contentions for consideration. (1) The Central Government having clubbed all the three. revision petitions and having rejected the revision petition of the petitioner on the ground that the revision petition preferred by the 3rd respondent was allowed, ought to have afforded an opportunity to the petitioner regarding the 'revision filed by the 3rd respondent before deciding all the three revision petitions together; (2) that the revision petition filed by the 3rd respondent was not maintainable inasmuch as the revision was Bled against the communication issued by the Central Government dated 20-3-1972 conveying the decision. of the Central Government and it was not an order passed by the State Government rejecting the application for renewal of the lease filed by the petitioner inasmuch as according, to the learned counsel, an order rejecting the application came to be passed by the State Government on 21-4-1,972. Therefore, the learned Counsel submitted that since no revision petition was filed by the 3rd respondent against the order dated 21-41972 refusing to renew, the Central Government ought not to have entertained the revision petition dated 1-4-1972 filed by the 3rd respondent and -allowed the same.
4. In reply to these contentions the contentions of Sri Datar, learned Counsel for the 3rd respondent, are that the petitioner has no locus standing in the matter inasmuch as the area in question *%vas not thrown open under Rule 58 of the Rules, fber6fore, merely because the petitioner came to file an application for grant of a mining lease in respect of the -area in question and the rejection of such application does not create any right in the petitioner in the matter in question in as much as the application of the petitioner filed f6r grant of a mining lease itself was not maintainable.
It was also' further submitted that in view of the provisions Contained in R. 54 (2) of the Rules it was not at all necessary to make the petitioner a party, and to -afford him an opportunity in the revision petition filed by the 3i:d respondent. Lt was -also further submitted that the renewal granted in favour of the 3rd respondent is in accordance with law for- the reasons stated in the order passed by the Central Government.
5. Having regard to the rival contentions of the parties the following points arise for consideration:
1). Whether the revision petition filed by the 3rd respondent before the Central Government against an order (communication) dated 20-3-1972 was maintainable in law?
2). Whether the petitioner was entitled to be impleaded as a party in the revision petition filed by the 3rd respondent?
3). Whether the petitioner can be said to have any locus standing in the matter in question?
6. 1 will take up the last contention first. It is not in dispute that the 3rd respondent- was granted a mining lease in respect of the area in question and that lease came to expire on 17-9-1973. It is also not in dispute that after the expiry of the lease period the area in question was not thrown open for grant of a mining lease as required by Rule 58 of the Rules. Unless as per Rule 58 of the Rules the area is thrown open for grant of a mining lease by making an entry in the register of mining lease and also by notifying in the official gazette at least 30 days * in advance, the date from which the area shall be available for grant of mining lease, it is not at all open for any person to make an application for grant of a mining lease and if any such application is made, the same cannot be considered to be a valid application. In this regard it is relevant to notice Rule 60 of the Rules which is as follows:
'Applications for the grant of a prospecting licence or a mining lease in respect of the areas in which-
(a) no notification has been issued under Rule 58 or Rule 59; or
(b) if any such notification has been issued the period specified in the notification has not expired;
shall be deemed to be premature and shall not be entertained and the fee, if any, paid in respect of any such application shall be refunded '
Therefore, a mere fact that the petitioner happened to file all application for grant of a mining lease in respect of the area in question after the expiry of the period of the mining lease granted in favour of ,the 3rd respondent and that application came to be rejected on the ground that the matter regarding the renewal of 1case granted in favour of the 3rd respondent is pending, do not in any way clothe the petitioner with any right in the matter. The application was premature as such it could not have been entertained. Therefore, I am of the view that the petitioner has no locus standi in the matter. That being so, the order passed by the 1st respondent allowing the revision petition of the 3rd respondent and granting the renewal of the lease in his favour cannot be said to have caused any legal injury to the petitioner - who has no right whatsoever in the matter of renewing of the lease in favour of the 3rd respondent. The conclusion r6ach6d on this point is sufficient to dispose of the writ petition. But nevertheless both the learned Counsel have addressed arguments on the other two points also, hence I will consider the same.
7. Taking the first one, no doubt, the revision petition filed by the 3rd respondent was against the communication issued on 20-8-1972. But the effect of the said communication was to reject the application filed by the 3rd respondent for grant of renewal of the mining lease in as much as under Section 8 of the Act, the State Government has no power to renew the mining lease without the previous approval of the Central Government. That being so, when the Central Government refused to give the approval for renewal of the mining lease in favour of the 3rd respondent and that decision of the Central Government came to be communicated to the 3rd respondent by the State Government, it was in effect an order rejecting the application of the 3rd respondent filed for renewal of the mining lease Therefore, the fact that the State Government subsequently came to communicate another order to the 3rd respondent stating that the application of the 3rd respondent has been rejected, neither did it change the position in any manner nor did it make the revision petition, filed by the petitioner not maintainable. Thus the first point is answered in the negative and against the petitioner.
8. Regarding the second point, R. 54 (2) the Rules provide- that in every application under sub-rule (1) thereof against the order of the State Government refusing to grant a prospecting licence or a mining lease, any person to whom a prospecting licence or mining lease was granted in respect of the same area or for a part thereof 'shall be impleaded as a party. Therefore, the person to be impleaded in the revision petition under Rule 54 of the Rules in the case of a mining lease must be the one in whose favour a mining ]case was granted. The petitioner was not the person in whose favour a mining lease -was granted. On the contrary, be was the person who has made an 'application for, grant of a mining lease in respect of an area which was not thrown open for grant of a mining lease as per Rule 58 of the Rules. Therefore, the application itself was premature and not valid in law. That being so, it cannot be said that the petitioner was entitled to be made a party in the revision filed by the 3rd respondent against an order of the State Government refusing to renew the mining lease. Consequently it follows that he was not entitled for a copy of the revision petition. The petitioner was also not entitled to submit -his comments on the revision petition filed by the 3rd respondent. The second point also is held against the petitioner.
Therefore, for the reasons stated above I do not see any ground to, interfere with the impugned order passed by the. Central Government granting renewal of the mining lease in favour of the 3rd respondent.
9. Lastly, Sri G. Swaminathan, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, submitted that the grant of renewal of the lease in question made in favour of the 3rd respondent, expires in the year 1983 and at least an observation may be made that after the expiry of the lease period the area in question may be thrown open for exploitation, by private mining operators. is a matter which lies within the discretion of the concerned authorities, who, have to take a decision having regard to the facts and circumstances of the cage as to, whether the area in question is to, be thrown open for private mining operators operators or to be reservd for public sector. Therefore, I do not- think that any observation need be made in this regard. For the reasons stated above, this writ Petition fails and the same is dismissed.
10. Petition dismissed.