The Supreme Court on Wednesday said if a country cannot control who gets access to atomic minerals which it owns, then it is a “very sorry state” of affairs, as it stayed a verdict of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, in its order, said: “Issue notice returnable on March 9, 2021. Until further orders, there shall be a stay of operation of the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh.”
On September 19 last year, the Andhra Pradesh High Court had held that the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) cannot prohibit grant of exploration license for atomic minerals to any private person permissible under the provisions of the Offshore Areas Minerals Development and Regulation (OAMDR) Act.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari had said that the notification issued on July 27, 2019 by the DAE under Sections 3 and 14 of the Atomic Energy Act does not confers power to the DAE to prohibit grant of exploration licence of atomic minerals to any person permissible under the provisions of OAMDR Act.
“As per the provision of Section 6 of the OAMDR Act, it is clear that the operating right can be granted to any person who is an Indian national or a company as defined in Section 3 of the Companies Act, 1956,” it ruled.
During a brief hearing on the matter, Chief Justice Bobde said: “We are little more than surprised with this judgment… it ignores the fact these beach sand minerals which are used for atomic purposes… if a country cannot control who gets atomic minerals it owns, then it is sorry state.”
“We are staying the judgment.”
The bench told the counsel of the private company that it can peacefully exit from the area, where these atomic minerals exist, and then a mining lease could be executed in its favour at a place where these atomic minerals are not present.
The private company’s counsel, however, argued that these minerals are used in paint industry and these licenses were awarded in an auction.
The bench reiterated that it does not agree with High Court order saying that DAE cannot prohibit grant of exploration licence of atomic minerals permissible under the provisions of OAMDR Act.