The Federation of Indian Mineral Industry, Southern Region, has moved the Supreme Court, seeking direction to discontinue the requirement to buy and sell iron ore only through e-auction in Karnataka.
Senior advocate Krishnan Venugopal and advocate Rohit Sharma on Friday mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Justice N.V. Ramana and sought urgent hearing in the matter.
The plea said as mandated by the top court in its judgment on April 18, 2013, the e-auction mechanism was envisaged only as an interim measure for a period of two years.
“The very body that had recommended this measure i.e., the CEC (Central Empowered Committee), has subsequently in 2016, acknowledged that it has served its purpose and ought to be replaced. It has also noted that this has no nexus with environmental protection. The state of Karnataka and the Monitoring Committee also agreed with the position taken by the CEC,” the plea said.
In an interim application, the industry body argued that the interim arrangement mandated by the court in the ‘Samaj Parivartan Samudaya’ case was no longer required as it created dual regimes for sale of iron ore in Karnataka and the rest of the country, where freedom to contract for sale is unfettered.
As the top court expressed intent to take up the matter after resumption of physical hearings, the petitioner’s counsel urged it to take up the matter through video conferencing.
The top court said it will examine fixing a date for the matter.
The plea urged the top court to allow purchasers freedom to enter into contracts with lessees in Karnataka.
“The Indian Bureau of Mines has introduced a satellite-based real time Mining Surveillance System (MSS) to prevent illegal operations within and outside the mining leases,” it noted.
The industry body contended that CEC, in its report, acknowledged that e-auction has served its purpose to the extent that it had stopped illegal mining. “The CEC in the report dated July 18, 2019 also acknowledges that sale of iron ore through e-auction has no nexus with environmental damage; The circumstances that prevailed at the time the e-auction was mandated, do not exist,” it said in the plea.
Citing the losses due to e-auction, the plea said: “The aforesaid scenario also has a cascading effect on the state exchequer, inasmuch as it causes a loss to the state as 15 per cent of the sale value of Karnataka origin ore accrues to the state government as royalty and 30 per cent of royalty to the DMF, in addition to other taxes, and 10 per cent towards the SPV.”