IN THE HIGH COURT OF JHARKHAND AT RANCHI W.P.(C) No. 5950 of 2014 Rajesh Kumar …......... Petitioner Vrs. 1.State of Jharkhand through the Secretary, Dept. of Mines, Ranchi 2.Mines Commissioner, Dept. of Mines, Ranchi 3.Deputy Commissioner, Dhanbad 4.District Mining Officer, Dhanbad 5.Assistant Mining Officer, Dhanbad .... Respondents ….... CORAM:HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE APARESH KUMAR SINGH For the Petitioner : Mr. Ashutosh Anand For the Respondents : M/s L.C.N.Shahdeo, G.P.IV & Jyoti Nayan, J.C to G.P.IV0318.10.2016 Heard learned counsel for the parties.
2. In the instant writ petition petitioner has challenged the order dated 16.10.2014(Annexure-9) passed by the Respondent no.2, Mines Commissioner, Ranchi in Revision Case No. 13 of 2010 whereby his application for renewal of mining lease has been rejected. Petitioner was awarded mining lease for quarrying stone over an area of 2 Acres in Village Paharpur, Dist. Dhanbad for a period of 10 years with option of renewal vide registered lease no. 1802 dated 9.6.2009. In terms of Rule 23 of the Jharkhand Minor Mineral Concession Rules 2004 he made an application on 21.2.2009 for its renewal. Petitioner was asked to submit upto date royalty clearance certificate; figures of production and dispatch of previous 3 years; copy of registered mining lease, by the Respondent no.4, District Mining Officer, Dhanbad vide letter dated 27.2.2009.
3. According to the petitioner his application was hit by deemed rejection and communicated through letter dated 21.10.2009 on account of the fact that royalty clearance certificate was not supplied to him despite making regular payments of royalty, dead rent since January 2006 totaling Rs.1,10,855/-. He preferred a Revision Application no. 13/2010 against the order of deemed rejection dated 21.10.2009, before the Mines Commissioner, Jharkhand. The same was rejected vide order at Annexure-2 dated 31.5.2010 by the Respondent no.2. Petitioner, however made a prayer for modification of the order dated 31.5.2010. Taking note of the stand of the parties, by the order dated -2- 4.10.2010(Annexure-3), the Mines Commissioner, Jharkhand directed the Deputy Commissioner, Dhanbad to decide the matter on merit provided petitioner pays up the demand, within 90 days of the order in accordance with the provisions of Jharkhand Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 2004. The order dated 31.5.2010 was amended accordingly after coming to a finding that there was serious flaw in reconciliation of accounts and adjustment of mining dues. The Opposite Party no.2 therein was directed to make final assessment order in the light of provision of Rules of 2004 within 30 days. Petitioner claimed to have deposited an amount of Rs.1,86,000/- through Bank Draft No.04954 dated 1.10.2010 as per the letter of the same date(Annexure-4) addressed to the District/ Assistant Mining Officer towards payment of royalty, dead rent in respect of the mining lease in lieu of the demand dated 11.2.2010(Annexure-1) up to December 2009.
4. Petitioner contends that despite order dated 4.10.2010 (Annexure-3) passed by the Mines Commissioner, Respondent no.3, Deputy Commissioner, Dhanbad did not consider the matter on merit, neither was the final assessment order after reconciliation of accounts and adjustment of mining dues made. It is submitted that pursuant to the directions issued by the Assistant Mining Officer, Dhanbad dated 11.9.2014 bearing memo no. 1039(Annexure-7) asking for monthly return for the period of Feb 2006 to October 2006, December 2006 to February 2007, November 2007 to February 2008 and January 2010 till September, 2014, petitioner submitted his representation vide Annexure-8 enclosing monthly return in 72 pages on 16.10.2014 before the Assistant Mining Officer, Dhanbad. It is submitted that the Revisional Authority in the said revision case no. 13/2010 by the order dated 27.08.2014 had also asked for status report from the Assistant Mining Officer, Dhanabad on the renewal application of the petitioner and steps taken for reconciliation of dues on the next date. Petitioner contends through statement made para 32 that the Revisional Authority by the -3- impugned order dated 16.10.2014(Annexure-9) did not allow time to the petitioner to satisfy it about the payment of outstanding royalty dues as per the monthly return enclosed to his reply, Annexure-8. The revision application was summarily dismissed without due opportunity to the petitioner. It is submitted that after payment of Rs.1,86,000/- on 1.10.2010 in lieu of the demand of royalty, dead rent till December, 2009 in view of the directions contained in order dated 4.10.2010, Annexure-3 by the Mines Commissioner, Jharkhand, no reconciliation of the accounts and adjustment of mining dues were ever made by the District Mining Officer, Dhanbad / Assistant Mining Officer, Dhanbad. The Mines Commissioner also failed to take note of the fact that without any final assessment order passed by the Assistant Mining Officer, Dhanbad, outstanding dues of Rs. 2,55,434/- towards royalty, dead rent were raised till June 2014. Petitioner's reply at Annexure-8 was also not taken into account. Petitioner prepared a mining plan enclosing the same in his representation, which was not accepted as the lease was treated to have lapsed and the revision application was dismissed. It is only on consideration of the royalty certificate and the Mining Plan submitted by the petitioner that he could seek environmental clearance. The application of renewal has therefore been rejected simply on the ground of lack of royalty clearance certificate without any application of mind.
5. Respondent States have filed their counter affidavit. It is their considered stand that petitioner did not pay the outstanding dues as indicated in the letter bearing memo no. 1039 dated 11.9.2014 raised after adjusting all outstanding amount paid earlier despite repeated demand made through several letters such as letter no. 3133/M dated 7.10.2010, letter no.161/M dated 5.2.2011, letter no. 571/M dated 10.5.2011 , letter no 1229/M dated 27.8.2012 and also the instant letter dated 11.9.2014. It is their case that the payment of Rs.1,86,000/- made on 1.10.2010 is against dues till December 2009. Thereafter no payment has been made. Till September 2010 the outstanding dues related to -4- rent and royalty on this lease was Rs. 47,035.59, up to March 2011 the dues became Rs. 71,219.59, up to June 2012 this dues further rose to Rs.1,40,996 and finally up to June 2014 this amount swelled to Rs. 2,5,434/- due to non payment on the part of the petitioner. Petitioner despite reminders could not make the payments to seek royalty clearance certificate, neither did he produce the dispatch figure, copy of Khatian. Ultimately after expiry of 90 days period, the renewal application became time barred. Therefore, the Mines Commissioner also did not find any merit in the claim of the petitioner and rejected his application. Petitioner was given all opportunity to file statutory papers such as royalty clearance certificate and payment of outstanding dues, which he failed to do within time. After the lapse of lease, it was made open for settlement with any interested person in terms of Rules of 2004. Therefore, no interference is required in the instant matter.
6. I have considered the relevant material facts on record and submission of the parties. The chronology of facts need not be repeated again. It is apparent from the pleadings on record that in the light of the order dated 4.10.2010 passed in Revision Case No.13/10, no final reconciliation of accounts and adjustment of mining dues from the petitioner have been shown on the part of Respondent authorities while asking him to make payment of Rs.2,55,434/- as royalty dues up to June 2014. Petitioner on the other hand has shown payment of Rs.1,86000/- as outstanding dues in terms of the demand (Annexure-1) raised for period up to December 2009. If the Respondent authorities i.e. Assistant Mining Officer, Dhanbad directed the petitioner to produce the monthly return by letter dated 11.9.2014 for furnishing status report to the Revisional Authority in terms of its order dated 27.8.2014(Annexure-6) and that petitioner submitted the same through Annexure-8 on 16.8.2014, the Respondent Authorities including the Mining Commissioner should have accorded at least one opportunity to the -5- petitioner to satisfy them on the issue of outstanding royalty, dead rent dues against him in respect of lease in question. However, the Revisional Authority on 16.10.2014 has chosen to reject the application being devoid of merit. If reconciliation of accounts and adjustment of mining dues is undertaken in terms of the order dated 4.10.2010 itself by the District Mining Officer, Dhanbad, it could lead to a finding one way or the other i.e. either petitioner may be liable to pay any remaining outstanding dues on that account till September 2014 or that no further dues would be outstanding against the petitioner towards royalty, dead rent.
7. The matter therefore requires reconsideration by the Respondent Revisional Authority in accordance with law. The impugned order at Annexure-9 dated 16.10.2014 is accordingly set aside. The matter is remanded to the Respondent no. 2, Mines Commissioner, Revisional Authority to reconsider the same in accordance with law after due opportunity to the petitioner. Let the said exercise be undertaken within a period of 12 weeks from the date of receipt of the copy of this order.
8. The writ petition is allowed in the aforesaid terms. (Aparesh Kumar Singh, J.) A. Mohanty