Satyanarayana Sinha Vs. M/S S. Lal and
Company Pvt. Ltd.  INSC 163 (10 September 1973)
REDDY, P. JAGANMOHAN REDDY, P. JAGANMOHAN
CITATION: 1973 AIR 2720 1974 SCR (1) 615 1973
SCC (2) 696
CITATOR INFO :
F 1976 SC 578 (33)
Practice-Constitution of India, 1950,
Art-226-Writ jurisdiction of High Court-If can be invoked by person not
The first respondent filed a writ petition in
the High Court challenging the grant of a mining lease to the appellant on the
ground of a direct. infringement of his right to be granted a mining lease over
an area for which he applied for a mining lease and which, according to him,
formed part of the area for which the appellant was given the lease. But in
fact, the first respondent's application was not in respect of any part of the
area for which the appellant was granted a mining lease. Though the appellant
was made party to the proceeding, he did not appear as notices were not served
on him. The High Court allowed the petition in the view that there was a
violation: of s. 31 of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act,
1957, and rr. 58 and 59 of the Mineral Concession Rules 1960.
Allowing the appeal to this Court,
HELD : The first respondent had no interest
in the subjectmatter of the lease, and the petition was not maintainable.
[618 G-H] Though this contention was not
urged before the High Court as the appellant did not appear in the High Court,
this Court, in appeal, can not only determine the soundness of the decision,
but has jurisdiction to determine any point raised before, it, such as, whether
the appeal is competent, whether a party has a locus standi to present the
petition and whether the petitioner was maintainable. Ordinarily, the
foundation for exercising the jurisdiction under Article 32 or Article 226, is
the personal or individual right of the petitioner himself, though in cases of
writs of habeas corpus or quo warranto, the rule may be relaxed. In respect of
persons who are not aggrieved and who seek to invoke the jurisdiction of the
High Court or this Court, the matter rests ultimately on the discretion of the
Court, and depends on the nature and extent of the right or interest said to
have been infringed and whether the infringement affects the petitioner in some
way. [619 A-B, D, G-H] In the present case, the first respondent only alleged
direct infringement of his right,but it was found that no right of his had been
affected. He was neither aparty nor a person aggrieved or affected and hence
had no locus standi to file the petition. [620 B-C] Ebrahim Aboobakar and
Another v. Custodian General of Evacuee Property,  S.C.R. 696, Chiranjit
Lal Chowdhuri, v. The , Union of India,  S.C.R. 869, The State of Orissa
v. Madan Gopal Rungta,  S.C.R. 28, The Calcutta Gas Company (Proprietary)
Ltd. v. The State of West Bengal and Others  Supp. 3 S.C.R. 1, Godde
Venkateswara Rao v. Government of Andhra Pradesh and Others  2 S.C.R. 172
and R. v. Thamples Magistrates' Court ex. p. Greenbaum, [19571 55 L.C.R.
129-extracted in Yardley Source Book of English Administrative Law, 1970, P.
228, referred to.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 2572 (N) of1972.
Appeal by certificate from the Judgment and
Order dated 4th April 1972 of the Patna High Court in Civil Writ Jurisdiction
Case No. 1121 of 1969.
616 B. P. Singh, for the appellant.
Lal Narain Sinha, Solicitor General of India
and S. P.Nayar, for respondent Nos. 2 and 6.
D. Goburdhan, for respondents Nos. 3-5.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by,
JAGANMOHAN REDDY, J. The appellant was granted a mining lease on August 30,
1969 by the State of Bihar (Respondent 3) with the prior approval of the
Central Government (Respondent 2) for winning a mineral known as Apatite over
as area of 1999.634 acres. Respondent 1 filed a writ petition on September 15,
1969 challenging the lease on the ground that he had earlier on March 22, 1965,
applied for a mining lease over an area of 280.62 acres in certain villages of
Singhbhum District which was included in the lease granted to the appellant,
but as no orders were passed by the State Government within the statutory
period the application was ,deemed 'to have been rejected. He thereafter filed
a revision petition to the Central Government which called for the comments of
the State Government. The State Government intimated to the Central Government
that it wanted to work the area itself and for that reason had in fact rejected
all the applications for this area including that of the first respondent. On
receipt of this comment, the Central Government rejected the revision petition
of the first respondent.
It appears that the appellant had pursuant to
an advertisement in the newspapers applied along with others for the grant of a
mining lease for phosphatic rock (Apatite) over an area of 4.1 sq. miles in
village Khajurdari in Singhibhum District. But all 'the applications were
rejected as the State Government had by then decided to work the phosphatic
bearing areas in the public sector. Later, however, as 3rd respondent felt that
such a venture could be better undertaken by a private party rather than the
State Government in view of the dispersed nature of the deposits, whose
concentrated and efficient supervision may not be possible through the public
sector, it decided to release the area in question to be worked in the private
sector. Accordingly permission was sought from the Central Government and an
advertisement published in the newspapers for the general information of the
interested parties who may be willing to set up a benefication plant for
upgrading the low grade Apatite to ensure its use for the production of
phosphatic fertiliser and who were capable of making an investment to the
extent of Rs. 40 to 50 lakhs.
The appellant who is reported to be
financially sound submitted a scheme for setting up a benefication plant for
upgrading the Apatite. In view of the financial solvency, of the appellant his
application was recommended to the Central Government. The Central Government
accepted this recommendation and directed the grant of the mining lease in the
following terms :
" The Central Government in the interest
of mineral development, in exercise of the powers conferred by subrule (2) of
rule 58 of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960, 61 7 hereby authorise the State
Government to grant mining lease for apatite over the area to Dr.
Satya Narain Sinha without following the
procedure laid down in sub-rule (1) of the said Rule 58 of the Mineral
Concession Rules, 1960.
Further in exercise of the powers conferred
by section 31 of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957,
the Central Government hereby authorise the State Government to grant mining
lease to Dr. Sinha over the area in question which does not form a compact
The Central Government also, in exercise of
the powers conferred by proviso to section 6(1) of the Mines and Minerals
(Regulation and Development) Act, 1957, authorise the State Government to grant
mining lease for apatite over the areas to Dr. Sinha in excess of the limit of
10 square miles prescribed in section 6(1) and (b) of the said Act."
Immediately on getting to know of the approval given by the Central Government
to the grant of the mining lease to the appellant, the first respondent moved
the State Government for a stay and though that application was rejected he
made several other attempts but without any success. The last revision
application was filed on November 17 1970 under r.
54 of the Mineral Concession
Rules--hereinafter referred to as 'the Rules'-before the 2nd respondent on
which an order dated November 23, 1971 was passed. This order as disclosed fly
the 1st respondent in his supplementary affidavit shows that the Central
Government had in exercise of their revisional powers under r. 55 of the Rules,
set aside the orders of the State Government and directed it to give further
consideration and pass appropriate orders within a period of four months in as
much as the State Government had not followed the correct procedure in dealing
with the application of the 1st respondent.
At this stage we may point out that in the
writ petition filed by the first respondent though the appellant was a party it
seems he did not appear and the proceeding was ex parte. The appellant's case
is that as no notices were served on him, nor was there any proof of service as
neither the covers in which the registered notices were sent nor the
acknowledgment cards had been returned to the Court, he did not have an
opportunity to be heard. No doubt the State of Bihar and the Central Government
had opposed the petition but the High Court came to the conclusion that the
conditions required for relaxation of the Rules in special cases under s. 31 of
the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957 (hereinafter
termed the Act) read with rr. 58 & 59 of the Rules, were not complied with
while according its approval for the grant of the mining lease to the
appellant. in this view it allowed the petition and quashed the lease in favour
of the appellant.
Before us it is contended by the appellant's
learned advocate that the appellant did not have an opportunity of urging
before the Court 618 that the writ petition filed by' the first respondent was
not maintainable, because he isnot a person aggrieved as the area for which the
,first respondent had made an application for the grant of mining lease was not
included in the area granted to the appellant. He further ,contends that
reasons were given by the State of Bihar while recommending the grant of the
lease to the Central Government, which reasons, at any rate one of them as is
evident from the order of the Central Government, were approved. There is,
according to him, no infringement of the provisions of s. 31 of the Act read
with rr. 58 & .59 of the Rules.
The learned Solicitor-General on behalf of
the Central Government supports the grant of the mining lease to the appellant
on the ground that r. 59 of the Rules is not applicable to the facts of this
case inasmuch as the 3rd respondent had not taken any firm decision to reserve
the area granted to the appellant, which is a necessary condition of the
applicability of that rule. If that rule did not apply then he submits the
procedure prescribed in r.
58 which is referred to therein need not be
He further submits that even if r. 59 is
applicable, reasons have been recorded by the Central Government for relaxing
the Rules as required in s. 31 of the Act.
In so far as the 3rd respondent-the State of
Bihar-is concerned, there has been a volte-face in its stand before us.
After having called for the applications and
recommended the lease in favour of the appellant, and after having placed him
in a position where he had to incur huge expense, it now wants to contend that
the grant of the lease is invalid.
Even the first respondent, once he found,
that the area for which he applied for a lease was not included in the appellant's
lease, seems to have preferred to remain absent in the case, but the State
Government wants to challenge the validity of the lease which it did not do
before the High Court.
There is no doubt, as the High Court has
pointed out, that where by relaxing the Rules the Central Government intends to
authorise in any case the grant, renewal or transfer of any prospecting licence
or mining lease, or the working of any mine for the purpose of searching for or
winning any mineral, on terms and conditions different from those laid down in
the Rules made under s. 13 of the Act, it can do 'so for reasons to be recorded
in writing. Whether any such reasons can be said to have been recorded in the
order authorising the grant of the lease on terms and conditions different from
those laid down in the Rules made under s. 13 of the Act need not concern us in
this case, because, in our view, as the writ petition has been filed by a
person who is not the person aggrieved, it is not maintainable.
As already pointed out it is admitted by
respondents 2 and 3 that the application made by the first respondent was not
in respect of the area which is granted to, the appellant and consequently the
first respondent had no-interest in the subject-matter of the lease. Even 619
though this contention was not urged before the High Court, and in the
circumstances adverted to by us could not have been urged, as the appellant did
not appear, this Court in an appeal can not only determine the soundness of the
decision, but has jurisdiction to determine any point raised before it, such as
whether the appeal is competent, whether a party has locus standi to present
the petition and whether the petition is maintainable etc. See Ebrahim
Aboobakar and Another v. Custodian General of Evacuee Property(1). In Chiranjit
Lal Chowdhuri v. The Union of India(2) it was held by this Court that the legal
right that can be enforced under Art. 32 must ordinarily be the right of the
petitioner himself who complains of infraction of such right and approaches the
Court for relief. In respect of the jurisdiction under Art. 226 of the
Constitution it was laid down in The State of Orissa v. Madan Gopal Rungta(3)
that the existence of the right is the foundation of the exercise of
jurisdiction of the Court under Art. 226 of the Constitution. The right to
which this Court had adverted as being the foundation for exercising the
jurisdiction under Art. 32 or Art. 226 of the Constitution, according to The
Calcutta Gas Company (Proprietary) Ltd. v. The State of West Bengal and
Others(4) is ordinarily the personal or individual right of the petitioner
himself, though in the case of some of the writs like habeas corpus or quo
warranto this rule may have to be relaxed or modified. Subba Rao, J., as he
then was, observed in that case :
"Article 226 confers a very wide power
on the High Court to issue directions and writs of the nature mentioned therein
for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III or for any other
purpose. It is, therefore, clear that persons other than those claiming
fundamental rights can also approach the court seeking a relief
thereunder." After citing the above passage in Godde Venkateswara Rao v.Government
of Andhra Pradesh and Others(5) the learned Judge who delivered the judgment in
this case also observed at p.181 :
"A personal right need not be in respect
of a proprietary interest : it can also relate to an interest of a trustee.
That apart, in exceptional cases, as the expression ,,ordinary" indicates,
a person who has been prejudicially affected by an act or omission of an
authority can file a writ even thoughhe has no proprietary or even fiduciary
interest in the subject-matter thereof." In respect of persons who are
strangers and who seek to invoke the jurisdiction of the High Court or of this
Court, difficulty sometimes arises because of the nature and extent of the
right or interest which is said to have been infringed, and whether the
infringement in some way affects such persons. On this aspect there is no clear
enunciation of principles on which the Court will exercise its jurisdiction.
(1)  S. C. R. 696. (2)  S. C. R.
(3)  S. C. R. 28. (4)  Supp. 3 S.
C. R. 1.
(5)  2 S. C. R. 172.
620 In England also the Courts have taken the
view that when the, application is made by a party or by a person aggrieved the
Court will intervene ex debito justitias, in justice to the applicant, and when
it is made by a stranger the Court considers whether the public interest
demands its intervention. In either case it is a matter which rests ultimately
in the discretion of the Court : (see R. v.Thames Magistrates' Court, ex. p.
In this case, however, the first respondent
has not challenged the grant of the lease on the ground of ex debito justitiae
but has done so on the ground of a direct infringement of his right to be
granted a mining lease over 280.62 acres for which the appellant was given a
lease along with other area. Since it is now found that no such right of the
first respondent has been affected, he has no locus standi. He is neither a
party nor a person aggrieved or affected and consequently his writ petition in
the High Court is not maintainable.
On this short ground, this appeal will be
allowed and the writ petition filed by the first respondent in the High Court
dismissed. The appellant will have his costs only against the State of Bihar.
V.P.S. Appeal allowed.
(1)(1957) 55 L.C.R. 129-extracted in Yardley
Source Book of English Administrative Law, 1970, p. 228).