THE STATE OF BIHAR vs PAWAN KUMAR

THE STATE OF BIHAR vs PAWAN KUMAR - Supreme Court Case 2022

NON­REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION 
I.A.   Nos.   154740­154741   of   2021,   153531­153532   of
2021, 165173 of 2021, 160138 of 2021, 160139 of 2021,
160142 of 2021 and 163177 of 2021
IN
CIVIL APPEAL NOS.3661­3662 OF 2020
THE STATE OF BIHAR AND OTHERS       ...APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
PAWAN KUMAR AND OTHERS        ...RESPONDENT(S)
O R D E R
1. All these I.As arise out of the directions issued by this
Court vide order dated 10th  November 2021 in Civil Appeal
Nos. 3661­3662 of 2020.
2. The   State   of   Bihar   had   approached   this   Court
challenging the order dated 14th October 2020, passed by the
National   Green   Tribunal,   Principal   Bench,   New   Delhi
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(hereinafter   referred   to   as   “the   Tribunal”)   in   O.A.   No.
40/2020/EZ   with   O.A.   No.   57/2020/EZ,   thereby   issuing
various directions.  This Court after taking into consideration
various   aspects,   including   the   necessity   to   curb   illegal
mining activities and the necessity to permit legal mining in
the interregnum till the other directions issued by this Court
are complied with, had issued the following directions dated
10th November 2021:
“14. We therefore find it appropriate to substitute
the directions issued by the Tribunal vide judgment
and   order   dated   14th October   2020,   with   the
following directions:­
(i) The exercise of preparation of DSR for
the purpose of mining in the State of Bihar
in   all   the   districts   shall   be   undertaken
afresh.  The draft DSRs shall be prepared by
the sub­divisional committees consisting of
the Sub­Divisional Magistrate, Officers from
Irrigation   Department,   State   Pollution
Control   Board   or   Committee,   Forest
Department,   Geological   or   mining   officer.
The same shall be prepared by undertaking
site   visits   and   also   by   using   modern
technology.   The   said   draft   DSRs   shall   be
prepared within a period of 6 weeks from
the date of this order.  After the draft DSRs
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are prepared, the District Magistrate of the
concerned District shall forward the same
for   examination   and   evaluation   by   the
SEAC.  The same shall be examined by the
SEAC within a period of 6 weeks and its
report   shall   be   forwarded   to   the   SEIAA
within the aforesaid period of 6 weeks from
the receipt of it.   The SEIAA will thereafter
consider the grant of approval to such DSRs
within a period of 6 weeks from the receipt
thereon;
(ii) Needless to state that while preparing
DSRs and  the  appraisal  thereof  by  SEAC
and   SEIAA,   it   should   be   ensured   that   a
strict   adherence   to   the   procedure   and
parameters   laid   down   in   the   policy   of
January 2020 should be followed;
(iii) Until   further   orders,   we   permit   the
State   Government   to   carry   on   mining
activities   through   Bihar   State   Mining
Corporation   for   which   it   may   employ   the
services of the contractors. However, while
doing so, the State Government shall ensure
that all environmental concerns are taken
care   of   and   no   damage   is   caused   to   the
environment.”
The matter was directed to be listed after 20 weeks.
I.A. Nos. 154740­154741 of 2021 
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3. The present I.As have been filed being aggrieved by the
cancellation of Letter of Intent (hereinafter referred to as the
“LoI”)   dated   21st  January   2020,   issued   in   favour   of   the
applicant. The applicant also apprehended that in view of the
order dated 10th  November 2021 passed by this Court with
respect to Banka District, the State Government may also
issue short Notice Inviting Tender (hereinafter referred to as
the   “NIT”)   with  respect   to   Kishanganj   District.    After   the
present I.As were filed, NIT has also been issued in respect of
sand ghats in Kishanganj District on 2nd December 2021. 
4. Shri Mukul Rohatgi, learned Senior Counsel appearing
on behalf of the applicant submitted that the applicant was a
successful   bidder   in   the   auction   held   for   the   Kishanganj
District   and   as   such,   the   action   of   the   respondent   in
cancelling   the   LoI   and   issuing   fresh   NIT   for   Kishanganj
District is not sustainable in law.   It is submitted that the
offer  of  the  applicant   was  for a  much  higher  amount   as
compared to the offer received by the respondent­Bihar State
Mining   Corporation   (hereinafter   referred   to   as   the
“Corporation”)   for   Kishanganj   District.     He   therefore
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submitted   that   it   is   in   the   interest   of   justice   that   the
applicant may be permitted to carry out the mining activities
in the Kishanganj District.
I.A. Nos. 153531­153532 of 2021
5. In the present I.As, the applicant claimed that it was a
successful bidder for auction of sand ghats in respect of
Banka District for the period from 2015 to 2019.   It is the
case of the applicant that it had been granted extension after
the   year   2019   from   time   to   time   and   the   last   of   such
extensions was granted till 31st March 2022.  The applicant
apprehended   that   in   pursuance   to   the   order   dated   10th
November 2021 passed by this Court, NIT would also be
issued in respect of Banka District.  During the pendency of
these I.As, NIT in respect of sand ghats in Banka District has
been issued by the Corporation on 2nd December 2021.
6. We have heard Shri Narender Hooda, learned Senior
Counsel appearing on behalf of the applicant in the said
application.  
7. Shri Hooda submitted that since the applicant was the
highest bidder in the auction conducted for the period from
5
2015 to 2019 and since thereafter, the applicant had been
granted extensions, he is entitled to carry out the mining
activities at least till 31st March 2022.  He further submitted
that the amount which the respondent­Corporation would
receive for the sand ghats in pursuance to the NIT dated 2nd
December 2021, is much less than the one the applicant has
offered and therefore, it is in the interest of justice that the
applicant be permitted to continue with the mining activities
at least till 31st March 2022.
I.A. No. 165173 of 2021
8. The   grievance   of   the   present   applicant   is   somewhat
similar to the grievance of the applicant in I.A. Nos. 154740­
154741 of 2021.   Here again, it is the contention of the
applicant that it was a successful bidder in respect of the
sand ghats in the Jamui District in the bids conducted in the
year 2019.  It is therefore submitted that the impugned NIT
dated   15th  November   2021   issued   by   the   Corporation
prejudicially affects the interest of the applicant.  
9. We have heard Shri Prashant Bhushan, learned counsel
in support of the said application.  Shri Bhushan submitted
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that   the   applicant   was   a   successful   bidder   in   the   bids
conducted in the year 2019 and he is entitled to be appointed
as a contractor or in the alternative at least he be granted a
right to match the highest bidder along with the right of first
refusal.
I.A. Nos. 160138, 160139 and 160142 of 2021
10. The grievance of the present applicant is similar to the
grievance of the applicant in  I.A. Nos. 153531­153532 of
2021.  It is the case of the applicant that it was a successful
bidder for the period from 2015 to 2019 at Nawada District.
Thereafter, the applicant was granted extensions from time to
time and the last of such extensions was granted till 31st
March 2022.  
11. Shri C.A. Sundaram, learned Senior Counsel appearing
on   behalf   of   the   applicant   submitted   that   as   such,   the
applicant would be entitled to carry out the mining activities
till 31st March 2022.
I.A. No. 163177 of 2021.
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12. In the present application, it has been submitted on
behalf of the applicant that the mining activities which are
being carried out by the Corporation are without the grant of
Environmental   Clearance.     It   is   submitted   that   the   very
purpose for which the order was passed by the Tribunal and
modified by this Court, was to ensure that the environment
is   not   damaged   on   account   of   rampant   mining   activities
without   the   grant   of   Environmental   Clearance   by   the
Competent Authority.  It is therefore submitted that the NITs
dated 15th November 2021 and 2nd December 2021 are silent
about the environmental aspects and therefore, the action of
the   respondent­Corporation   in   issuing   NITs   amounts   to
contempt of this Court.
13. Shri   Atmaram   Nadkarni,   learned   Senior   Counsel
appearing on behalf of the appellant­State of Bihar submitted
that the NITs in question were issued for a limited period in
view of the order passed by this Court dated 10th November
2021.   He submitted that the rest of the directions as are
issued   by   this   Court   with   regard   to   preparation   of   draft
District Survey Report (hereinafter referred to as “DSR”) and
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consideration   of   the   same   by   State   Expert   Appraisal
Committee   (hereinafter   referred   to   as   “SEAC”)   and   State
Environment   Impact   Assessment   Authority   (hereinafter
referred   to   as   “SEIAA”)   are   under   process.     He   further
submitted that in view of the permission granted by this
Court vide order dated 10th November 2021, the Corporation
is employing the services of the contractor for the limited
period.  He submitted that after the directions issued by this
Court are complied with, a fresh process for allotment of
sand ghats in accordance with law would be initiated subject
to the orders of this Court.  He further submitted that while
permitting the mining activities through the services of the
contractor, the Corporation is ensuring that no damage is
caused to environment by such activities.
14. We   had   issued   the   directions   vide   order   dated   10th
November 2021 in the peculiar facts and circumstances of
the matter.   We had noticed that unless the detailed DSRs
are   prepared   by   the   Sub­Divisional   Committees   by
undertaking site visits and using the modern technology and
unless the same are examined by SEAC and SEIAA, it will
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not   be   appropriate   to   carry   out   the   mining   activities.
However, we had also noticed that if there is a ban on mining
activities,   apart   from   it   leading   to   illegal   sand   mining,
criminalization   and   clashes   between   the   sand   mafias,   it
would also cause huge loss to the public exchequer.  We had
noticed that sand is also required for construction of public
infrastructural   projects   as   well   as   public   and   private
construction activities.
15. Taking into consideration these aspects of the matter,
we   had   issued   directions   so   that   the   Sub­Divisional
Committees, the SEAC and SEIAA act within the stipulated
time periods.  We had granted 6 weeks’ time at each level and
had directed the matter to be kept after 20 weeks.  However
noticing, that during the said period, it was necessary to
permit the mining activities so as to prevent illegal mining
and also to prevent loss to the public exchequer, we had
permitted the Corporation to carry out the mining activities,
and   further   to   employ   the   services   of   the   contractor.
However,   while   doing   so,   we   had   directed   the   State
Government to ensure that all environmental concerns are
10
taken care of and no damage is caused to the environment. It
could   thus   be   seen   that   this   was   only   a   stop   gap
arrangement.
16. A   perusal   of   the   NITs   in   question,   issued   by   the
Corporation   would   reveal   that   the   Corporation   has
specifically referred to the order dated 10th November 2021,
passed   by   this   Court   and   has   also   specified   that   the
operation period of sand ghats will only be up to 31st March
2022, and subject to further orders passed by this Court in
the present proceedings.  
17. Insofar as the applicants in I.A. Nos. 153531­153532 of
2021 and I.A. Nos.160138, 160139 and 160142 of 2021, who
claim to have a vested right in view of the extensions granted
in   their   favour   are   concerned,   we   see   no   merit   in   these
applications.   Though   they   were   successful   in   the  bidding
process held in the year 2015, which was extended up to
2019 and thereafter, they were only continuing under the
extensions granted.  
18. Insofar   as   the   other   applicants   in   I.A.   Nos.154740­
154741 of 2021 and I.A. No.165173 of 2021 are concerned,
11
though they were successful bidders in the tender process
conducted in the year 2019, in view of the order passed by
the Tribunal dated 14th October 2020, which was modified by
this Court vide order dated 10th  November 2021, they also
cannot claim a vested right to do the mining activities.  
19. Taking   into   consideration   the   peculiar   facts   and
circumstances in which we had passed the order, we find
that entertaining any of such applications would result in
further   complications.     In   any   case   after   our   directions
issued on 10th  November 2021 are complied with, we will
take a final look of the matter in the last week of March,
2022.  The NITs issued by the Corporation for mining, cover
the period only up to 31st March 2022.  We are therefore not
inclined to entertain the aforesaid four I.As.
20. Insofar as the I.A. No. 163177 of 2021, filed by the
applicant alleging contempt of this Court’s order dated 10th
November 2021 is concerned, we have already directed the
State of Bihar to ensure that while carrying out the mining
activities, it shall ensure that all environmental concerns are
taken care of and no damage is caused to the environment.
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We remind the State Government of the said directions and
direct it to ensure that the said directions are complied with
scrupulously.
21. In that view of the matter, I.A. Nos. 154740­154741 of
2021, 153531­153532 of 2021, 160138 of 2021, 160139 of
2021, 160142 of 2021 and 165173 of 2021 are rejected.  
22. I.A.   No.   163177   of   2021   is   disposed   of   in   terms   of
paragraph (20) of this order.
……....….......................J.
[L. NAGESWARA RAO]
..…....….......................J.
      [B.R. GAVAI]
NEW DELHI;
JANUARY 18, 2022.
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