HEADLINES:
December 14 2018
HC stays order cancelling land allotted to Vedanta
04 October 2018

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday granted an interim injunction against Sipcot’s order cancelling the land allotted to Vedanata in Thoothukudi for the purpose of commissioning an additional copper smelter. Sipcot had earlier issued an order cancelling allotment of 342.22 acres of land to Vedanta, the parent company of Sterlite Copper, which is presently sealed.

Justice V. Parthiban, taking up Vedanta’s plea for hearing, granted an interim injunction against the order notified by Sipcot. The court observed that prima facie it looked like the order was passed as a knee-jerk reaction to address the grave concern expressed by people living around the Sterlite Copper unit.

‘Entitled for relief’

The court said that even assuming that the people felt the functioning of the plant would cause incalculable harm, leading to an environmental disaster, it did not mean the State could pass orders, giving a complete go-by to the settled legal principles and against the principles of natural justice. The judge took cognisance of the fact that the State had failed to serve notice to Vedanta in this regard, and on that ground alone, the company was entitled to get interim relief. The court granted an interim injunction while adding that the balance of convenience was in favour of the petitioner.

In its petition, Vedanta said that the decision to cancel the land allotted was done in a hasty manner without even giving the company a chance to be heard. The order was arbitrary, discriminatory and marred by irregularities, the company said. Moreover, Unit II had not commenced operations and there was no immediate threat of pollution.

The company added that the cancellation of allotted land was effected without appreciating the fact that the land had an extensive green cover as a compliance requirement for both existing facilities and the planned expansion. Against this backdrop, the company sought a stay on the order and the quashing of the same.

 

 

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