Read Judgment:M/s Haryana Mining Company v. State of Haryana & Ors
New Delhi, May 10, 2022: The Supreme Court has allowed the appeal of Haryana Mining Company in a case where the Punjab and Haryana High Court had dismissed the writ petition filed by the Appellant challenging the order whereby the mining lease granted to it was terminated by the Director General, Mines and Geology and the order by which the appeal filed against the Termination Order was dismissed by the Appellate Authority.
The Division Bench of Justice L.Nageswara Rao and Justice B.R.Gavai held that the Termination and the Appellate Orders were arbitrary and suffered from the vice of unreasonableness. Observing that relevant material had not been taken into consideration before the Termination Order was passed, the Bench took note of the fact that there was no mention of the Divisional Forest Officer’s report which considered the reports relied on by the Director General, Mines and Geology and absolved the Appellant of indulging in any illegal mining activity on the ground that no evidence was found against the Appellant.
The factual background was such that a lease deed was executed between the Appellant and the State Government and the Appellant commenced mining operations after the mining area was demarcated. Later,another demarcation of the mining area was done in view of certain complaints against the Appellant of illegal mining conducted by exceeding the permitted area of mining.
On such allegations being made a verification was conducted and a report was made. The Director General, Mines and Geology, terminated the mining lease of the Appellant, aggrieved by which an appeal was filed. The Appellate Authority dismissed the appeal and the Punjab & Haryana High Court directed the Appellate Authority to decide the matter afresh. But the appeal filed by the Appellant was dismissed. Challenging the Termination Order and the Appellate Order, the Appellant filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which was dismissed and hence, this Appeal was filed.
The Division Bench was of the opinion that the High Court committed an error in dismissing the writ petition without examining as to whether there was an iota of evidence to justify the Termination Order. The Top Court extensively discussed the DFO’s report wherein it was concluded that the allegation of illegal mining against the Appellant was not proved. The Bench was surprised to find that there was no reference to this report submitted by the DFO in the Termination Order.
Referring to its judgment in Apparel Export Promotion Council v. A.K. Chopra; High Court of A.P. v. Nirmala K.R. Dayavathi, the Apex Court asserted, “We are aware that constitutional courts, in exercise of their power of judicial review, would not examine sufficiency of evidence. At the same time, it is well-settled that interference is warranted if it is found that the weight of the evidence was opposed to the conclusion recorded or there was no evidence at all, rendering the conclusion ex-facie erroneous or perverse…”. Thus, allowing the appeal, the Bench set aside the orders passed by the Director General, Mines and Geology, Appellate Authority and the High Court.