Respite for JSPL as Chhattisgarh High Court puts fresh auction of Dantewada’s mine on hold


A recent order by the Chhattisgarh High Court has come as a huge relief for Jindal Steel and Power Limited, which had sought the judicial intervention to acquire the mining lease of an iron ore mine allotted to the steel giant in Dantewada’s Kamalur village.

A division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and Justice Rajani Dubey directed that no third-party rights could be created on the mine in question and placed its auction on hold.

“On the said date, this Court shall hear petitioner’s prayer for the interim relief. However, in the meanwhile, it is observed that the proceeding for leasing out the subject mining area under the subject Notice Inviting Tender (N.I.T) shall remain subject to the final outcome of the writ petition,” the Bench said.

After being allotted the min, the JSPL had made a heavy investment to execute the prospecting licence since the company faced enormous challenges including the influence of Maoists in the region.

In a blow to the JPSL, the Chhattisgarh government announced the mine’s auction all over again by invoking the 2021 amendment to Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015. Two clauses of the amended MMDRA namely sections 10A(2)(b) and 10A(2)(c) deal with the grant of prospecting licence mining leases.

This effectively meant that companies such as the JSPL were expected to go through the bidding route if it intended to acquire the rights of the iron ore mine in Dantewada. Given that the company had already made a huge investment in prospecting, the bidding process would have rendered the deal unviable for the JSPL and other companies such as Neco Jaiswal.

In a writ petition filed by Neco Jaiswal, the same Bench of the high court ordered on 16 September, “The proceedings for leasing out the subject mining area shall remain subject to the final outcome of the writ petition.”

Both petitions would come up for hearing next on 6 October.

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