Court No. - 4
Case :- WRIT - C No. - 25804 of 2019 Petitioner :- Starnet Marketing Pvt Ltd And 2 Others Respondent :- State Of U.P. And 3 Others Counsel for Petitioner :- Jugal Kishor Khanna,S.G. Hasnain,Syed Mohd. Fazal Counsel for Respondent :- C.S.C.
Hon'ble Bala Krishna Narayana,J. Hon'ble Prakash Padia,J.
Per: Hon’ble Prakash Padia, J.
1. Heard Sri S.G. Hasnain, learned Senior Counsel assisted by Sri Syed Mohd. Fazal and Sri Jugal Kishor Khanna learned counsel for the petitioners and learned Standing Counsel representing respondents-State.
2. The petitioners have preferred the present writ petition with the following prayers:-
“(i) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of certiorari quashing the impugned notices dated 03.04.2019 and 13.06.2019 issued by Respondent No.2 for payment of royalty and also impugned notices dated 25.03.2019 and 03.05.2019 issued by Respondent No.4 to pay demands of District Minerals Fund (DMF).
(ii) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus directing the respondents for termination of the mining lease deed of the petitoner for want of minerals at the mining lease area.
(iii) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus directing the respondents to refund excess amount of royalty, which has been paid to the respondents for the quantity of minerals, which have not been excavated due to non-availability of minerals.”
3. Facts in brief as contained in the writ petition are that the petitioner No.1 is duly incorporated company and engaged in the business of mining and selling of minerals and the petitioner Nos.2 and 3 are Directors of the aforesaid Company.
4. By way of notification dated 06.09.2017, e-tender cum e-auction proceedings were initiated by respondent No.2-District Magistrate Banda for granting mining lease in respect of 4,00,000 cubic meter of sand/moram from Gata Nos. 721, 722, 723 for an area of 20 hectares at village Kolawal Raipur, Tehsil Daraini, District Banda. The petitioners duly participated in the e-auction and since the bid offered by the petitioners was found highest, they were issued a letter of intent dated 30.10.2017 and a mining lease was also executed in favour of the petitioners on 16.2.2018.
5. As per the terms and conditions of the lease deed, the petitioners were requested to deposit advance royalty payable quarterly as per fourth schedule as inserted by way of Rule 27(3) of the Uttar Pradesh Minor Minerals Concession (43rd Amendment) Rules, 2017.
6. It is contended that the respondent-authorities right from the inception of mining operation started creating hindrance in the peaceful mining operation of the petitioner. On 14.3.2018, the petitioners were issued a show cause notice for overloading of minierals on two trucks. Since the reply was not submitted by the petitioners, another show cause notice was issued to them on 03.06.2018. In response to the same, a detail reply was submitted by the petitioners on 05.06.2018.
7. It is contended that another notice was issued to the petitioner on 21.1.2019 stating therein that on the spot inspection by the Naib Tehsildar and Tehsildar, it was found that five prohibited lifter machines were operating and excavating the sand. Another show cause notice was issued on 22.01.2019 to the petitioners. In response to the aforesaid notices, a detail reply was again submitted by the petitioners on 30.01.2019. Since no action was taken, as such the petitioners also preferred a writ petition before this Court being Writ C No.11626 of 2019 (Starnet Marketing Pvt. Ltd. and 2 others Vs. State of U.P. and 2 others). The aforesaid writ petition was finally dismissed by a Co-ordinate Bench of this Court on the ground that as on today, no recovery proceedings were initiated against the petitioners. It is contended that in the meanwhile, a letter dated 25.3.2019 was issued by the respondent No.2/District Magistrate Banda addressed to the respondent No.4 namely Nyalaya Nilam Partapadhikari (Khanan) Dhanbad Anchal Dhanpad (Jharkhand) stating therein that a cumulative amount of Rs.75,20,005/- in lieu of District Mineral Fund (DMF) shall be recovered along with interest with effect from 27.12.2018. In pursuance to the same, the respondent No.2 issued a notice on 03.04.2019 whereby the petitioner was directed to deposit cumulative amount Rs.8,27,20,000/-.
8. In response to the aforesaid notices, a reply was submitted by the petitioner on 17.4.2019. Thereafter another notice was issued to the petitoner on 3.5.2019 by respondent No.4 by which the petitioner was directed to deposit cumulative amount of Rs.80,97,618/- along with interest. The petitioners submitted their reply on 28.5.2019 stating therein that in response to the earlier notices, a reply was already submitted by them on 17.4.2017but without deciding the same, a demand notice was issued and as such the notice of demand is bad in the eyes of law. It is further contended that even without deciding the objection raised by the petitioners, another notice dated 13.6.2019 was issued by the respondent No.2 directing the petitioner to deposit a sum of Rs.8,27,20,000/-.The petitioner again submitted a reply on 17.06.2019 and since no response was given by the respondents, another representation was made by the petitoners on 9.7.2019. At this point of time, since no action was taken by the respondents on the reply submitted by the petitioners and notice of demand was issued to them, the petitioners have preferred the present writ petition with the prayer to quash the notice issued by respondent No.2 and to refund the excess amount of royalty which have been paid by the petitioners
9. Heard learned counsel for the parties. With the consent of learned counsel for the parties, this writ petition is finally disposed of at the admission stage itself.
10. From perusal of the facts as narrated above, it is clear that time and again, the notices of demand were issued by the respondents to the petitioners. Detail replies were duly submitted by the petitioners from time to time but no decision whatsoever has been taken on the same and without deciding the same, notices were issued to deposit the amount of royalty and other dues to the petitioners.
11. Once a reply has been submitted by the petitioners, respondents were duty bound to decide the same by passing a speaking and reasoned order. Respondents cannot be permitted to sit tight over the matter more specially when the respondents are State under Article 12 of the Constitution of India.
12. In the facts and circumstances of the case, the present writ petition is disposed of directing the petitioners to submit a fresh representation ventilating all their grievances addressed to the respondent No.2 within a period of three weeks from today along with certified copy of this order. If such a representation is filed, respondent No.2 is directed to decide the same by passing a speaking and reasoned order most expeditiously and preferably within a period of four weeks thereafter. Respondent No.2 will also provide opportunity of hearing to the petitioners.
13. It is contended by learned Standing Counsel that the petitioner be directed to appear before respondent No.2 on 31.08.2019. If petitioners will appear before respondent No.2 on 31.08.2019, the respondent No.2 will hear the petitioners and pass appropriate orders as stated hereinabove. If it is not possible for respondent No.2 to hear the matter on 31.08.2019, the respondent No.2 will decide the same on another date after hearing and giving proper intimation to the petitioners.
14. Till the time, decision is not taken by the respondent No.2, no coercive action be taken against the petitioners. In the meantime, auction, if any, is held by the respondents may take place but the same will not be given effect till the matter is finally decided and appropriate orders is passed by respondent No.2.
15. With the aforesaid observations, the writ petition is disposed of. No order as to costs.
Order Date :- 13.08.2019/saqlain