Original language

English

Country
India
Date of text
Type of court
National - higher court
Sources
Court name
Supreme Court of India
Seat of court
New Delhi
Reference number
(1993) INSC 209
Tagging
Forests, Protected Areas, Licences
Free tags
Wild species & ecosystems
Justice(s)
Reddy
Venkatachala
Abstract
This case dealt with illegal mining activity in an area declared as Tiger Reserve. The petitioner, a voluntary organization interested in protecting the environment, approached the court complaining of the widespread illegal mining activity going on in the area declared as a Tiger Reserve in the State of Rajasthan. It prayed that in the interest of ecology, environment and rule of law, the activity should stop. It was alleged that there were notifications prohibiting all mining activity, and yet the State Government had granted hundreds of licences for mining marble, dolomite and other materials and that such section was contrary to law. The Court appointed a committee to ensure due observance of the various Acts and Notifications that had been issued in respect of the protected area. The committee stated that there were 215 mines completely falling within the areas declared as protected forest while 47 mines fell partly inside and partly outside the areas declared as protected forest. The court emphasized that this was not a case where the court was called upon to shut down an activity being carried on lawfully, in the name of higher considerations of ecology and environment. It was a simple case to ensure observance of enacted laws made by the State to protect the environment and ecology of the area. In such a case, there was no need to be oppressed by considerations of balancing the interest of economy and ecology. That had already been done by the Legislature and Parliament. It observed that no mining lease could have been granted or renewed within the forest without clearance from the Central Government in accordance with the forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and the Rules made there-under. Admittedly, no such prior approval or clearance of central Government was obtained. It concluded that the mining activity was illegal and had to stop. Maybe this would have the effect of bringing to halt the activity involving a good amount of capital and a large number of workers. But in view of the inherent illegality attaching to them, there was no option but to close them. Besides that, it was directed that the mining activity in the mines situated outside the protected forest areas but within the tiger reserve could continue for a period of four months. If no permission to continue mining was obtained from the Central Government within the said period of four months, the mining activity in the entire area declared as tiger reserve had to stop.