Court not to quash show-cause notice against granite firm

Madras high court has refused to quash a show-cause notice issued to granite major PRP Granites, asking the company as to why mining licences issued to it should not be declared as lapsed since mining activities had not started on leased plots for nearly two years.

“I am of the view that on a reasonable reading of the impugned show-cause notices, a person of ordinary prudence would not come to a conclusion that the authority made up his mind and came to a definite conclusion on the guilt of the company. On the other hand, it only directed the company to show-cause as to why action cannot be taken as the Act,” said Justice D Hariparanthaman, dismissing the writ petition of PRP granites.

Between 2003 and 2008, the government had issued at least 15 mining licences on patta lands to PRP granites for a period of 20/3 years. On March 15, 2013, the industries department issued the impugned show-cause notice asking the company personnel to appear for a personal hearing, and to show-cause why the lease deeds granted them should not declared as lapsed. Assailing the notices, the company said it was the district collector, and not the government, who is the competent authority to issue such notices, and that the authorities had not furnished copies of the materials relied on by them so as to enable the company to submit its replies.

The government, however, said the very purpose of surprise inspections would suffer if prior intimation was given to the mining-licensees. Copies of relevant documents would be supplied to the company as and when it appears for personal hearing, it said, adding that the writ petition was a premature plea.

Concurring with the submissions, Justice Hariparanthaman said, “show-cause notices were issued. The special government pleader also made a statement before this court that all reasonable opportunity would be given, and the reports that are referred in the impugned show-cause notices, and other relevant documents, if any, would be furnished. He also stated that adequate opportunity would be given before taking a final decision.”

A writ petition is not maintainable against a show-cause notice, he said, and dismissed the plea.

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