C. Buchivenkata Rao Vs. Union of India
& Ors  INSC 68 (8 March 1972)
BEG, M. HAMEEDULLAH BEG, M. HAMEEDULLAH
CITATION: 1972 AIR 1324 1972 SCR (3) 665 1972
SCC (1) 734
Mineral Concession Rules, 1949, rr. 27 and
32--Application not accompanied by map and containing defects re : area--If
should be rejected.
Practice--If legal representative can
continue application for mining lease--Equities.
The application of one B for a mining lease
was rejected on the ground that another applicant V had a prior claim. B's writ
application was dismissed by the High Court and while his appeal in this Court
was pending he died and his sons were allowed to be impleaded as legal
representatives subject to any -objection that may be taken to their right to
continue the appeal.
it was not in accordance with r. 27 of the
Mineral Concession Rules and because of want of a map and 'some details
regarding area, and therefore, whether B's. application should have been
HELD : (1) The details mentioned in r. 27 are
intended for the correct identification of the individual to whom the lease is
to be granted, the minerals which are to be mined the area in respect of which
the lease was to be granted and the qualifications of the applicant. Rules 32(2),
introduced in 1955, before the grant of V's application, shows that individual
qualifications of the applicants including their special knowledge, .their
capacity to engage technically efficient staff, their financial soundness and
stability, bad to be taken into account in determining the question of
priority. There is no prohibition against the grant of an application on the
ground that the application is defective or not accompanied by a map. There is
also no provision in the Act showing that defects in an application could. not
be subsequently removed. The form of the application is subordinate to the
essential facts to be taken into account before granting a lease. The
information given in the application is intended for the satisfaction of the authorities
granting the lease, so that, .after considering the merits and making a grant
up Proper details are embodied in the lease actually granted. ply of necessary
details is directory and not mandatory. It was not the cage here that as a
result of the defects in V's application the lease itself could not be
Therefore, the mere want of a map or of
details describing the area for which the lease was applied for, would not make
the application itself void or of no effect. If it did not produce a defect
which affected the validity of the leak, and the details supplied in the
application corresponded with the contents of the lease afterthe alleged lacuna
had been removed the grant of the lease to V was valid. [669-FH; 67OB-F] (2) In
order to enable a legal representative to continue a legal proceeding, the
right to sue or pursue a remedy must survive the death of his predecessor.
Under the rules, the right of an applicant on the strength of a superior claim
cannot be separated 'from his personal qualifications.
[671 G-H] 666 Moreover, there is no provision
in the Rules for imploding an heir to continue the application for a mining
lease. The scheme under the Rules is that if an applicant dies, a fresh
application has to be presented by the heirs or legal representatives if they
desire to apply far the grant of a lease. It may be that they may obtain
priority over an earlier applicant if they are continuing the business or
industry of the decreased, but it would be on a fresh application setting out
their qualifications. Therefore, the heirs had no right to continue the appeal
in this Court.
[672A-C] Dhani Devi v. Sant Bihari &
Ors.,  2 S.C.R. 507, distinguished.
(3) The acceptance of V's claim by the
Government on the strength of which he had made his investment, clothes his
claim with an equity which could not be defeated without clear proof of some
overriding legal right or interest of another claimant, and, there is no such
right in the heirs of B [672G-H]
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 2580 of 1969.
Appeal from the judgment and order dated
August 6, 1969 of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Writ Petition No. 3124 of
A.Subba Rao, for the appellants.
S.P. Nayar, for respondent No. 1.
P.Ram Reddy and A. V. V. Nair, for respondents
Nos. 2 and 3.
P. P. Rao and T. V. S. Narasimhachari, for
respondent No. 4.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Beg, J. This appeal, from a Judgment and order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court
dismissing the appeallant's Writ Petition, comes up before us by Certificate
under Article 133(1)(a) of the Constitution, in the following circumstances One
Buchivenkata Rao had filed application on 1-9-1959 and 1-8-1960 under Mineral
Concession Rules, There in after referred to as 'the Rules' before the Collector
of Nellore, for the grant of a mining lease to him of an area mentioned in his
applications. He alleged that his applications complied with the rules framed
under the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development Act of 1957. The State
Government rejected the application of 11-8-1960 on 7-121960, but granted the
application made on 4th October, 1950, by the Respondent Kumara Rajah of
Venkatagiri (hereinafter referred to as Venkatagiri). The ground on which the
application of the appellant Rao, was rejected was that Venkatagin' had a prior
claim. The appellant Rao had then preferred a Revision application to the
Central Government under the Mineral Concession Rules which came into force on
11th November, 1960,.
667 The Central Government had rejected the
revision application on the ground that it was not filed within the prescribed
time. Upon a Writ Petition filed in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, the order
of rejection of the revision application by the Central Government was quashed.
The Central Government was directed to consider Rao's application on merits.
The Central Government had, after giving due opportunity to be heard to the
appellant Rao, dismissed his application on 18th October, 1967, holding that
Venkatagiri had priority over his claim. Rao then filed a second Writ Petition
which was dismissed on 26th September, 1969. The judgment and order of
dismissal are now under appeal before us.
The judgment of the High Court shows that the
appellant Rao had relied on the following three grounds only at the time of
agruments on his Writ Petition :-firstly, that the application of Venkatagiri
was not made in accordance with Rule 27 and 32 of the said Rules of 1949;
secondly, that the application of Venkatagiri was not for a fresh lease but for
the continuation of a previous lease so that it did not fall within the purview
of the rules; and, thirdly, that the Central Government had, not considered in
detail the various comments offered by the State Govt. with regard to each
ground of revision.
A contention noticed by the High Court, as a
separate ground of attack, was that the Central Govt. had relied upon a ruling
of a Single Judge of the Punjab High Court in J. A. Trivadi Brothers v. Union
of India(1), holding that Rules 27 to 29 did not make defective applications
void, but this view had been reversed by a Division Bench of that Court.
This was no really a separate ground but a
contention relating to the effect of failure to comply strictly with Rules 27
to 29 of the Rules of 1949. The main contention of Rao was that the application
of Venkatagiri had to be disregarded as it failed to comply with the rules,
and, therefore, was not an application in the eye of law, so that, out of
several competing applications, Rao's application. ought to have been granted.
The High Court, made it clear that other grounds were taken in Rao* petition,
but were not argued there. In this Court, a fresh ground, neither taken nor
argued before the High Court, is sought to be urged in addition to the other
grounds before the High Court which were repeated before us. We will take up
the grounds advanced in the High Court and again in this Court before
considering the entertain ability of the fresh ground.
At this stage, before dealing with the first
ground, we may set out the relevant rules 27 and 32 of 1949 which run as
follows "27. Application for mining, lease-An application for a mining
lease shall, in case of land in which the mine(1) A.I.R. 1959 Punjab 589.
668 rals belong to Government, be made to the
State Government concerned through such officer or authority as it may appoint
in this behalf and shall contain the following particulars :(a)(i) If the
applicant is an individual, his name, nationality, profession, and residence,
and (ii) if the applicant is a partnership firm, a company or an association or
body of individuals, whether in corporated or not, its name, nature and place
of business, place of registration of incorporation and except in the case of a
company which is not a private company as defined in the Indian Companies Act,
1913 (VII )of 1913) the names and addresses of the individuals constituting
such partnership firm, company, association or body.
(b) The number and date of the notification
of the grant or renewal of certificate: of approval of the applicant;
(c) A description, illustrated by a map or
plan, showing as accurately as possible the situation, boundaries and area of
the land in respect of which the lease is required;
(d) The mineral or minerals which the
applicant intends to mine;
(e) The areas and minerals within the
jurisdiction of the State Government for which the applicant or any person
joint in interest with him already holds a mining lease;
(f) If the applicant holds a prospecting
license for the area applied for, the number and date of such license;
(g) The period for which the lease. is
required; and (h) The industry, if any, which the applicant proposes to develop
and the location of such industry.
Explanation :-The map or plan referred to in
item (c) should give sufficient information to enable identification of the
area in respect of which the lease is required".
"32. Priority-(1) If more than one
application regarding the same land is received, preference shall be given to
the application received first. unless, the State Government, for any special
reason, and with the prior approval of the Central Government decides to the
Provided that where more than one application
in respect of the same land is received on the same day, the State Government,
after taking into consideration the matters specified in sub-rule (2) and after
obtaining the prior approval of the Central Government, may grant the mining
lease to such one of the applicants whom it considers to be the most suitable.
Provided further that no application shall be
deemed to be incomplete for the purposes of this rule on account of the
omission or mis description of the number and date of the prospecting licence
and of the profession or residence or nationality in the case of an individual
or of the place of business in the case of a partnership firm, a company or an
association or body of individuals, whether incorporated or not, if such
omission or mis description, is corrected within a period specified by the
State Government or an Officer appointed by that Government in this behalf.
(2) The matters referred to in the proviso to
sub rule (1) shall be the following namely:(i) experience of the applicants in
(ii) financial soundness and stability of the
(iii) special knowledge of geology or mining
and the technical staff already employed or to be employed for the work.
It is clear to us that the details mentioned
in Rule 27 are intended for the correct identification of the individual to
whom the lease is to be granted, the minerals which are to be mined, the area
in respect of which the lease was to be granted, and the qualifications of the
Considerable emphasis was placed on the word
'shall' in Rule 32 with regard to the priority to be given between different
applicants. This rule does not directly affect the question whether an
application for a lease could be considered a proper application or not by the
authorities concerned. The second proviso to this rule, however, provides for
the manner in which certain defects may be cured. Rule 32, subrule (2),
introduced in 1955 before the grant of the application of Venkatagiri, shows
that the individual qualifications of the applicants including their special
knowledge, their capacity to engage technically efficient staff, their financial
soundness and stability, had to be taken into account in determining the
question of priority.
Again Rule 670 26, imposing certain
restrictions, prohibits the grant of the lease to any person who does not hold
a certificate of approval from the State Government or who has not produced an
Income tax clearance certificate. It does not prohibit any grant on the ground
that the application for it is defective or not accompanied by a map. The form
of the application seems to be subordinate to the essential facts, to be taken
into account before granting a lease.
There is no provision in the Act showing that
the defects in an application which is accompanied by the fee prescribed in
Rule 28 cannot be subsequently removed. The information given in the application
is intended for the satisfaction of the authorities granting the lease so that,
after considering inherits and making a grant, proper details are embodied in
the lease actually granted. It was not urged anywhere that, as a result of any
defects in the application, of Venkatagiri, the lease. itself could not be
executed. This indicates that the omission to file a proper map initially was
The High Court had relied on a decision of
this Court in Banarsi Das v. Cane Commissioner, U.P.(1) where conditions
similar to those laid down by Rule 27 were held to be directory. It had also
held that, even assuming that some of the requirements in the rules may be
mandatory, it could not be held that the mere want of a map or of details,
describing the area for which the lease was applied for, would make the
application itself void or of no effect. We are, therefore, unable to find any
error in the view adopted by the High Court that the supply of necessary
details was directory and not mandatory. If it did not produce a defect which
affected the validity of the lease, and the details supplied in the application
corresponded with the contents of the lease after the alleged lacuna had been
filed up, the grant of the lease to Venkatagiri was valid.
As regards the second ground that the
application of Venkatagiri had to be interpreted as an application for the
continuation of an already existing lease and not for the grant of 'a fresh
lease, we find that the High Court had rejected this contention by pointing out
that the application was on a form which complied, with Rule 27 so that it
could be treated as a fresh application. We find nothing wrong with the High
Court's interpretation of the application made by Venkatagiri.
The High Court had also found, as a fact,
that the order of the Central Government disclosed that it was based on
relevant considerations and could not be said to have omitted consideration of
anything material simply because the details of matters considered were not
fully set out.
We concur with this view and are (1) A.I.R.
1963 S.C. 1947.
unable to hold that the order of the Central
Government was vitiated on the third ground urged on behalf of Rao.
We may now refer to the fresh question which
was sought to be raised on behalf of the appellant by means of an application
before us. This was, that this Court had pointed out in Nookala Satharamaiah v.
Kotaiah Naidu & Ors.(1), that, on 15th September, 1956, the Mineral
Concession Rules were amended and. a new sub-rule 28(1-A) was introduced which
provided that every application under Rule 27, shall be disposed of within nine
months from the date of its receipt, and had, held that the effect of the
amended Rule 57, which was further amended on 14-9-1956, was that an
application remaining un disposed of within the period prescribed will be
deemed to be rejected. It was urged that we should allow this point to be
argued for the first time in this Court although it was neither raised nor
argued in the High Court. it was submitted that this was a pure question of-law
on which no investigation of facts afresh was required.
On the other hand, it has been contended, on
behalf of the contesting respondent, that a new _point should not be allowed to
be urged at this stage for which reliance was placed on Bhagwati Saran &
Anr. v. State of Uttar Pradesh(2), S. L. Aggarwal v' General Manager, Hindustan
Steel Ltd.(3), Chitra Ghosh & Anr.v. Union of India & Ors.(4) Even if
we had been disposed to consider this new ground on the plea that exceptional
circumstances justified our going into it, we must here point out another fact
which affects the very maintainability of the appeal before us now.The
appellant B. Rao died on 18-2-1970. His sons filed an application in this Court
on 20-7-1970 for impleading them as the heirs and legal representatives of the
This application was tentatively allowed, on
3-11-1970, under the orders of the Registrar of this Court, subject to such
objections to the rights of the substituted appellants to be heard and to
continue this appeal on behalf of the deceased' as may be taken before us at
the hearing of the appeal.
It has to be remembered that, in order to
enable a legal representative to continue a legal proceeding, the right to sue
or to pursue a remedy must survive the death of his predecessor. In the instant
case, we have set out provisions showing that the rights which an applicant may
have had for the grant of a mining lease, on the strength of an alleged
superior claim, cannot be separated from his personal qualifications. No
provision has been pointed out to us in the rules for impleading an heir who
could continue. the application for a mining lease. The scheme under the rules
(1)  (1) S.C.R. 153.
(3)  (3) S.C.R. 363 at 365.
(2)  (3) S.C.R. 563 at 568.
(4)  (1) S.C.R. 413 at 420.
672 seems to be that, if an applicant dies, a
fresh application has to be presented by his heirs or legal representatives if
they themselves desire to apply for the grant of a lease.
It may be that the heir,, and legal
representatives, if they are continuing the business or industry of the
deceased and have, the required qualifications, obtain priority over an earlier
applicant on account of special reasons for this preference. But, in each case,
they have to apply afresh and set out their own qualifications. It has not been
shown to us that any of the legal representatives have applied afresh. The
legal, re-preventatives only claim to be entitled to succeed the deceased
Buchivenkata Rao under a will. The assumption underlying the application is
that, whatever right the deceased may have had to .obtain a lease survived and
vested in the heirs after his death. We are unable to accept the correctness of
In support of the contention on behalf of the
heirs of Buchivenkata Rao, our attention was drawn to the case of Dhani Devi v.
Sant Bihari & Ors.(1) which related to a right to obtain transfer of a
permit for a Motor vehicle under Section 61, sub. s. 1(2) of the Motor Vehicle
Act. It was held there that, in the case of the death of an applicant for the
grant of a permit in respect of his motor vehicle, the Regional Transport
Authority had the power to substitute the person succeeding to the possession
of the vehicle in place of the deceased applicant. It was pointed out there
that the right to the permit was related to the possession of the vehicle.
Moreover, there was a rule enabling the Transport Authorities to substitute the
heir or legal representatives of the .deceased. No such rule applicable to the
case of the heirs of the deceased Buchivenkata Rao has been pointed out to us.
Therefore, we are unable to hold that the heirs, who have been heard, had any
right to continue, the appeal before us. This feature of the case is decisive
not only on the right to be heard on the fresh ground but also on the right to
advance any argument in support of the appeal of the deceased.
We may mention that it was also urged that
the matter was so, old that any reversal of the grant of the mining lease to
Venkatagiri, as long ago as 1960, would involve considerable dislocation and
injury to respondent Venkatagiri without any fault on his part. The respondent
Venkatagiri must have invested considerable amount of money in mining
operations. The acceptance of the claim of Venkatagiri by the Government on the
strength of which Venkatagiri made his investment clothes Venkatagiri's claim
with an equity which could not be defeated without clear proof of some legal
right or interest of another claimant.
We are (1)  (2) S.C.R. 507.
673 unable to see any such right in the heirs
of the deceased Buchivenkata Rao.
Consequently this 'appeal is dismissed but we
make no orders as to costs in this Court.
V.P.S. Appeal dismissed.