Banarsi Dass Chadha & Bros. Vs.
L.T. Governor, Delhi Admn. & Ors  INSC 141 (21 August 1978)
REDDY, O. CHINNAPPA (J) REDDY, O. CHINNAPPA
(J) KRISHNAIYER, V.R.
CITATION: 1978 AIR 1587 1979 SCR (1) 271 1978
SCC (4) 11
Mines and Minerals (Regulation and
Development) Act, 1957 S. 3(e)-Brick-earth. whether a minor mineral. within
the meaning of that expression 'Minor Mineral', as defined in s. 3(e).
S. 3(e) of the Mines and Mineral (Regulation
and Development) Act, 1957 defines "'Minor Mineral' as meaning building
stones, gravel, ordinary clay, ordinary sand other than sand used for
prescribed purposes, and any other mineral which the Central Government may, by
Notification in the official Gazette declare to be a minor mineral". In
exercise of the power conferred by s. 3(e) of the Act the Central Government
declared inter-alia brick-earth as a 'minor mineral'.
Dismissing the appeal by special leave the
HELD: ( I ) The word 'mineral' has no fixed
but a contextual connotation. If 'mineral' is not a term of art it is a word of
common parlance, capable of multiplicity of meanings depending upon the
context. The word is occasionally used in a very wide sense to denote any
substance that neither animal nor vegetable Sometimes it is used in a narrow
sense to mean no more than precious metals like gold and silver. Again the word
'minerals' is often used to indicate substances obtained from underneath the
surface of the earth by digging or quarrying. though it is not always so. [273
A-C, 274 F] In the context of the 'Mines and Minerals (Regulation and
Development) Act, the word Mineral is of sufficient amplitude to include
brick-earth. If the expression 'minor mineral' as defined in the Act, includes
'ordinary clay` and 'ordinary sand'. there is no earthly reason why brick-earth
should not be held to be 'any other mineral' which may, be declared as a 'minor
mineral'. [1275 B-C] Bhagwan Das v. State. Of U.P.,  3 SCR 869, applied
Laddu Mal v. State of Bihar, AIR 1965 Pat. 491; Amar Modilal Singh v. State of
Haryana, AIR 1972 Punjab and Haryana 356; Sharma & Co. v. State of U.P.,
AIR 1975 All.
State of West Bengal v. Jagdamba Prasad, AIR
Todd Birleston & Co. v. The North Eastern
Railway Co.,  I K.B. 603; quoted with approval.
(2) A substance must first be a mineral
before it can be notified as a minor mineral pursuant to the power vested in
the Central Government under s. 3(e) of the Act. Brick- earth being a mineral.
the Central Government has correctly notified it as a 'minor mineral'. [272
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 1 278 of 1978.
Appeal by special leave from the Judgment and
Order 15- 11-1976 of the Delhi High Court in Civil Writ No. 96 of 1971.
B. Dutta for the Appellant.
Soli J. Sorabjee, Addl. Sol. General and R.
N. Sachthey for Respondents 1 and 2.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
CHINNAPPA REDDY, J.-We granted special leave and heard arguments on the limited
question whether "brick-earth" is a 'minor mineral' within the
meaning of that expression as defined in Section 3 (e) of the Mines and
Minerals (Regulation and Development') Act. 1957.
The definition is as follows:
"Minor mineral' means building stones,
gravel? ordinary clay, ordinary sand other than sand used for prescribed
purposes, and any other mineral which the Central Government may, by
Notification in the official Gazette declare to be minor mineral ;" In
exercise of the power conferred by Section 3(e) of the Act, the Central
Government declared the following minerals to be minor minerals "Boulder,
Shingle, Chalcedony pebbles used for ball mill purposes only, limeshell kanker
and limestone used for lime burning, murrum, brick-earth, fuller's earth,
bentonite road metal, reh-matti, slate and shale when used for building
material;" The submission of the learned Counsel for the appellant was
that a substance had to be a mineral before it could be notified as a minor
mineral pursuant to the power under Section 3(e) of the Miens and Minerals
(Regulation and Development) Act, 1957. He urged that brick-earth was not a
mineral and, therefore, it could not be notified a minor mineral.
We agree with the learned Counsel that a
substance must first be a mineral before it can be notified as a minor mineral
pursuant to the power vested in the Central Government under Section 3(e) of
the Act. The question, therefore, is whether brick-earth is a mineral. The
expression "Minor Mineral" as defined in Section 3(e) includes 'ordinary
clay' and 'ordinary sand'. If the expression "minor mineral" as
defined in Section 3(e) of the Act includes 'ordinary clay' and 273 `ordinary
sand', there is no reason why earth used for the purpose A of making bricks
should not be comprehended within the meaning of the word "any other
mineral" which may be declared as a "minor mineral" by the
Government. The word "mineral" is not a term of art. It is a word of
common parlance, capable of a multiplicity of meaning depending upon the
context. For example the word is occasionally used in a very wide sense to
denote any substance that is neither animal nor vegetable. Sometimes it is used
in a narrow sense to mean no more than precious metalls like gold and silver.
Again, the word "minerals" is often
used to indicate substances obtain- . ed from underneath the surface of the
earth by digging or quarrying. But this is not always so as pointed out by
Chandrachud, J (as he then was) in Bhagwan Dass v. State of Uttar Pradesh,(1)
where the learned judge said (at p. 874):
'It was urged that the sand and gravel are
deposited on the surface of the land and not under the surface of the soil and
therefore they cannot be called minerals and equally so, any operation by which
they are collected or gathered cannot properly be called a minerals operation.
It is in the first place wrong to assume that mines and minerals must always be
sub-soil and that there can be no minerals on the surface of the earth. Such an
assumption is contrary to informed experience. In any case, the definition of
mining operations and minor minerals in section 3(d) and (e) of the Act of 1957
and Rule 2(S) and (7) of the Rules of 1963 shows that minerals need not be
subterranean and that mining operations cover every operation undertaken for
the purpose of "Winning" any minor mineral. "Winning" does
not imply a hazardous or perilous activity. The word simply means extracting a
mineral" and is used generally to indicate,- any activity by which a
mineral is secured. "Extracting" in turn means drawing out or obtaining.
A tooth is 'extracted' as much as the fruit juice and as much as a mineral.
Only that the effort varies from tooth to tooth, from fruit to fruit and from
mineral to mineral".
We may also refer to Northern Pacific Railway
Company v. John A. Sodrberg(2) where the Supreme Court of United States
observed as follows (at page 581):
"The word 'mineral' is used in so many
senses, dependent upon the context, that the ordinary definitions of the
dictionary throw but little light upon its significance in a (1)  3
S.C.R. 869. (2) 47 L. Fd.575 274 given case. Thus, the scientific division of
all matter into the animal, vegetable, or mineral kingdom would be absurd as
applied to a grant of lands, since all lands belong to the mineral kingdom, and
therefore, could not be excepted from the grant without being destructive of
it. Upon the other hand, a definition which would confine it to the precious
metals-gold and silver-would so limit its application as to destroy at once
half the value of the exception. Equally subversive of the grant would be the
definition of minerals found in the Century Dictionary: as "any
constituent of the earth's crust" ; and that of Beinbridge on Mines:
"All the Sub- stances stances that now form, or which once formed, a part
of the solid body of the earth". Nor do we approximate much more closely
to the meaning of the word by treating minerals as substances which are
""mined"" as distinguished from those are
"quarried", since many valuable deposits of gold, copper, iron, and
coal lie upon or near the surface of the earth, and some of the most valuable
building stone, such for instance, as the Caen stone in France, is excavated
from mines running far beneath the surface. This distinction between underground
mines and open workings was expressly repudiated in Midland C. v. Haunchwood
Brick & Tile Co. (L.R 20 Ch. Div. 552) and in next v. Gill (L.R. 7 Ch.
699)" The Supreme Court of United States also referred to several English
cases where stone for road making or paving was held to be 'minerals' as also
granite, sandstone, flint stone, gravel, marble, fire clay, brick clay, and the
It is clear that the word 'mineral' has no
fixed but a contextual connotation.
The learned Counsel for the appellant invited
our attention to the decision of the Court of Appeal in Todd Birleston and Co.
v. The North Eastern Railway Co.(l) and to Stoud's Judicial Dictionary to urge
that clay, brick-earth and the like have sometimes been held not to be minerals
by English Courts. As we said earlier the word mineral is an elastic word whose
meaning depends upon the setting in which it is used. For instance, in the case
cited, the question was whether clay forming the surface or subsoil, and
constituting the "land" compulsorily taken for the purposes of a railway,
was not a mineral WITH the meaning of Sections
77, 78 or 79 of the Railway Clauses Consolidation Act. The answer was that
'clay' was not a mineral for the purposes of the Railway Clauses Consolidation
Act. Any other conclusion, in the context of the Act, would have led to the
absurd (1)  I K.B. 603 .
275 result that the original owner whose land
had been taken would be entitled to dig and take away the clay from the land on
which the Railway was constructed, thus defeating the very object of the
compulsory taking. On the other hand, as noticed by the Supreme Court of the
United States, in several English cases clay, gravel, sand, stone etc. has been
held to be minerals. That is why we say the word mineral has no definite
meaning but has a variety of meanings, depending on the context of its use. In
the context of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation & Development) Act, we
have no` doubt that the word 'mineral' is of sufficient amplitude to include
'brick-earth'. As already observed y us, if the expression 'minor mineral' as
defined in the Act includes 'ordinary clay' and 'ordinary sand'.
there is no earthly reason why 'brick-earth'
should not be held to be 'any other mineral' which may be declared as 'minor
mineral.. We do not think it necessary to pursue the matter further except to
say that this was The view taken in Laddu Mal v. State of Bihar(l) Amar Singh
Modilal v. State of Haryana(2) and Sharma & Co. v. State of U.P.(3). We do
not agree with the view of the Calcutta High Court in State of West Bengal v.
Jagadamba Prasad (4) that because speaks of 'ordinary earth' as a mineral it is
not a minor mineral as defined in the Mines and Minerals (Regulation &
Development) Act. The appeal is accordingly dismissed with costs.
S.R. Appeal dismissed (1) A.I.R 1965 Patna
491 (2) A.I.R 1972 Punj. & Har. 356 (3) A.I.R.. 1975 All. 86. .
(4) A.I.R.. 1969 Cal. 2XI.