J.C. SHAH, J.
1. Claiming that he had obtained in 1945 a hukumnama from the landlord Brojendra Nath Tiwari for a lease in respect of 1640 acres of coal-bearing land, the appellant submitted two applications to the State of Bihar for grant of rights to mine fire-clay and coal. Proceedings were taken under the said two applications and it is claimed by the appellant that mining rights for fire-clay were granted to him by the State of Bihar. The record is not clear whether the application for grant of coal-mining rights was rejected or otherwise disposed of. On September 18, 1966, the appellant again applied for grant of coal-mining rights in the same land. That application stood rejected by the State Government by virtue of Rule 24 of the Mineral Concession Rules because it was not dealt with by the State Government within the prescribed period. The appellant then applied on July 21, 1967, to the Union Government for an order revising the dismissal of his application. On August 26, 1968, the Government of Bihar submitted its comments on the revision application. On June 21, 1969, the Central Government issued a notice to the appellant stating that it was proposed to reject the revision application on three grounds viz.:
(i) The fire-clay occurs at the roof of the top most coal seam and can be mined separately without being exploited;
(ii) The area contains non-cooking coal of grades I & II variety;
(iii) It is against our policy to grant mining leases for lower grades of coal and unless the area is contiguous to a working colliery and the production is required for maintaining its (working colliery's) existing level and/or for avoiding labour retrenchment,
and the appellant was called upon to send his comments on the proposed rejection of the revision application. By order, dated September 15, 1969, communicated under the signature of the Under Secretary to Government of India, the revision petition was dismissed. The order of dismissal was founded on four grounds, the first three being those which were set out in the notice, dated June 21, 1969 and the fourth being “the public sector is also interested in the area”. Against the order dismissing the revision petition, this appeal has been filed with special leave.
2. In our judgment the order of the Central Government is vitiated because the appellant was never called upon to explain whether “the public sector was interested in the area”. It appears from the recital in the notice served upon the appellant that the Central Government had tentatively come to the conclusion on the three grounds that the petition filed by the appellant should be dismissed, and the appellant was called upon to submit his comments on the proposed rejection on those three grounds. If thereafter the Central Government dismissed the petition on a ground which was not mentioned in the order served upon the appellant, prima facie the order was illegal, for the appellant was never given an opportunity to make his representation on the fourth ground. We, therefore, set aside the order passed by the Central Government and direct that the Central Government do proceed according to law.
3. Before us Brejendra Nath Tiwari and 3 others have applied to be joined in the appeal as party-respondents and in the alternative to intervene at the hearing of the appeal. We have granted the application for intervention. Mr Chagla who appeared for the interveners contended that the hukumnama of 1945 on which reliance is placed by the appellant is a fabricated document, and it has been so held by the High Court of Patna in some court proceeding. But we are at this stage not concerned with the question whether the claim made by the appellant that he held a hukumnama pursuant to which he was in possession of the property was true or valid. Mr Chagla says that the interveners were and are in possession of the land. The appellant says that he is in possession. That is a matter which has to be decided by the Central Government and not by us. It is open to the interveners to apply to the Central Government in the revision application. It will be open to the Central Government to deal with the application of the interveners to be joined in the revision application according to law. We express no opinion on the orders which the Central Government may make on such an application, if made.
4. The appeal is allowed. There will be no order as to costs.