India: high court rules coal mining licenses illegal

The Supreme Court of India ruled (PDF) Aug. 25 that all coal mining licenses awarded between 1993 and 2010 are illegal. The court found that the licenses failed to comply with the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act of 1957 (PDF); Section 3(3)(a)(iii) of the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act of 1973 (PDF); and the principle of trusteeship of natural resources. The ruling cited arbitrariness, lack of transparency, lack of objectivity, allotment tainted with mala fides and corruption, and made in favor of ineligible companies tainted with mala fides and corruption. The court will now decide if 218 such licenses should be canceled.

In 2012 the Justice MB Shah Commission of Inquiry, an Indian judicial committee investigating illegal mining practices, issued a report that indicted Digambar Kamat, the former Chief Minister of the state of Goa, for permitting illegal mining in the state during his 12-year tenure as the state's minister of mining. The report detailed irregularities in leasing practices to mining firms, and concerns about oversight of mining operations. It contains many detailed satellite images showing the extent of the mining activities. The report directly links the irregularities to Kamat, saying that the acts were committed under the awareness of his ministerial offices, and occurred during his tenure. The report recommended a reduction in permitted mine production amounts, and increased oversight with a wider group of government officials.

From Jurist, Aug. 25. Used with permission.