Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Chhattisgarh High Court disposes of PIL against mineral industry

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The Chhattisgarh High Court closed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed questioning the resolution dated 06.06.2020 passed by the Gram Panchayat Deori, as well as the No-Objection Certificate (NOC) granted to private respondents to set up a mineral industry at village Akoli and on adjacent parcels of land situated at village Deori.

The Gram Panchayat, Deori consists of two villages, namely, Deori and Akoli. While village Akoli is represented by four Panchas, village Deori has 17 Panchas, including the Sarpanch.

By the resolution dated 06.06.2020, approval was accorded to grant NOC to the private respondents for setting up of a mineral industry.

It is stated in the petition that it was ratified by all the Panchas of village Deori. Without any supporting materials, it is pleaded that the four Panchas of village Akoli were not informed about the meeting.

Siddharth Dubey, the advocate for the petitioner, submitted that a representation dated 06.11.2021 came to be forwarded to the Sub-Divisional Officer informing that approval of Gram Sabha was not obtained and in such event, Section 85 of the Chhattisgarh Panchayat Raj Adhiniyam, 1993 enabled the Sub-Divisional Officer, who is the prescribed authority, to suspend the resolution as also the NOC. However, no action was taken by him.

On a query by the Division Bench of Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami and Justice Parth Prateem Sahu as to whether the resolution of the Panchayat is to be approved by the Gram Sabha, Dubey conceded that there is no requirement of approval of the resolution by the Gram Sabha.

The Court noted that materials on record indicate that substantial work relating to raising of infrastructure has been done by the private respondents.

No other infirmity to the resolution is pointed out save and except stating that sanction of the Gram Sabha was not obtained, which advocate for the petitioner admitted is not required and that Panchas from Akoli were not informed. Assuming it to be true that the Panchas from Akoli were not informed, it is manifest that the resolution was passed by a vast majority, held the Court.

“Section 85 of the Adhiniyam, 1993 appears to be a suo-motu power vested on the Sub-Divisional Officer. Even if no order on the representation has been passed, there can be no justification in approaching this Court to challenge a resolution passed two years back and after substantial infrastructure had been raised,” the Bench observed while closing the PIL.

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