Divisional Forest Officers & Ors Vs. S. Nageswaramma
 INSC 1003 (23 August 1996)
K. Ramaswamy, K.G.B. Pattanaik (J)
O R D
have heard learned counsel on both sides.
appeal by special leave arises form the order of the Division Bench of the
Andhra Pradesh High Court dated July 7, 1995 made in Writ Appeal No.96/94. The admitted facts are, that
the respondent had a mining lease granted by the Director of Mines on September 18 1979 to extract mines in the forest area
for five years i.e. up to September 12 1984.
The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 case in to
force on October 25
1980. Therefore by the
date of the expiry of the lease the authorities were denuded of the power to
grant renewal of the mining lease. Lease is right to extract minerals and the
renewals should be in accordance with the law in operation as on the date of
renewal. Renewal of lease being not a vested right the application for renewal;
must be disposed of according to law prevailing as on that date.
expiry of the lease period, on September 13 1989,
an application came to be made for renewal thereof. It would be obvious that
the renewal was in violation of Section 2 of the forest Conservation Acts since
admittedly the prior approval of the Central Government was not obtained.
the Forest Department in the joint inspection made on February 7.1990
discovered that the respondent was extracting mines within the forest area and
therefore, they issued directions canceling the lease.
the respondent case to file writ in the High Court. After the joint survey was
conducted under the direction of the High Court, the High Court directed the
respondent to carry on extraction of the stacked material form the forest area,
subject to the respondent's obtaining prior approval of the competent
authorities. Thus, this appeal by special leave.
contended by Shri Subba Rao, learned counsel for the respondent, that what the
respondent had been denied is not making any fresh extraction of the mines in
the forest area but only the removing of the stacked minerals form the surface
of the earth, that too, with the permission granted by the authorities: the
direction issued by the High Court in the impugned order, therefore, is correct
in law. We find no force in the contention. The learned judges have proceeded
on the premise that the respondent is entitled to extract and remove minerals,
said to be stacked on the ground that the lease is a valid lease: otherwise he
does not get any right. The premise on which the Division Bench has proceeded
is obviously illegal. Section 2 of the Act prohibits of mining operations if
the mines are situated within the forest area. It is a total prohibition,
unless the State Government grants mining lease with the prior concurrence of
the Central Government. Admittedly, the prior concurrence of the Central
Government had not been obtained.
Rao sought to place before us the guidelines issued by the Department of
Environment and Forest, Government of India in relaxation of Rules/Guidelines
under Forest (conservation) Act 1980. Therein the question is of the clearances
of the project by the State Government without obtaining the prior concurrence
of the Department of Environment and forest. In that behalf it was mentioned
that the renewal of the mining leases. if they are within particular radius was
directed to be done without any fresh breaking up of fresh area and felling of
the trees but subject to re-forestation. It this case that situation does not
arise. This is a case of grant of renewal in routine way. Under these
circumstances, the direction issued by the Division Bench of the High Court is
appeal is accordingly allowed but, in the circumstances without costs.