On Tuesday, the Supreme Court dismissed a bunch of review petitions filed by the Goa government and a top mining company, seeking review of a 2018 judgement that had scrapped renewals of 88 mining leases in the state based on procedural irregularities.
The judgement by Justices Dhananjay Chandrachud and MR Shah also hauled the petitioners for filing the review petitions. It was after the retirement of Justices Madan Lokur and Deepak Gupta, who chaired the SC bench which in their order in 2018 had scrapped the renewal process, stopping all fresh excavation of ore in the coastal state.
"Keeping in mind the above, we are inclined to dismiss these review petitions on the ground of limitation alone. However, in any event, we also find that no legitimate grounds for review of the judgment in Goa Foundation II have been made out, and dismiss these review petitions on merits as well," the judgement said.
The 2018 SC verdict followed a petition filed by Goa Foundation, a renowned green NGO located in Goa.
Tuesday's judgement also slammed the Goa government and another petitioner, namely Vedanta Ltd, for filing the bunch of review petitions after the retirement of the two judges, while also stating that no cogent grounds had been submitted to the Court to justify the delay in filing the petitions.
"...an application for review of a judgement has to be filed within thirty days of the date of the judgement or order that is sought to be reviewed. No cogent grounds have been furnished for the delay between 20 and 26 months by the two parties in filing their applications for review," the judgement said.
"The State of Goa preferred its four review petitions in the month of November 2019, after Justice Madan B. Lokur's retirement, while Vedanta Limited preferred its four review petitions in the month of August 2020, right after Justice Deepak Gupta's retirement," the judgement said.
"Such practice must be firmly disapproved to preserve the institutional sanctity of the decision making of this Court. The review petitioners were aware of the decision of this Court," the judge also said.
The judgement could lead a fresh twist to politics in poll-bound Goa, where the resumption of mining activity is being billed as one of the key talking points ahead of the 2022 state assembly polls.