A GO dated February 11 last year of the Industries department introducing Rule 38-C in the Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules, which imposed certain conditions on sand dealers in the State, was upheld by the Madras High Court on Tuesday.
The statutory duty imposed upon sand dealers in Rule 38-C for the purpose of preventing illegal mining, storage and transportation of sand could not be held as illegal, arbitrary and ultra vires of the Constitutional provisions or any of the provisions of the Act, the first bench comprising Chief Justice MY Eqbal nd Justice TS Sivagnanam has said.
The bench was dismissing a batch of over 100 writ petitions filed in the Madras HC and its Bench in Madurai. The petitions sought to set aside the GO, which made it mandatory to obtain a licence for setting up stockyards. It also mandated that the sale slip should be obtained by the stockists from the local deputy tahsildars. For this purpose, the stockists or the licensees should send the original transport permits issued by the authorities while transporting mineral from the quarry site and also the sale slip for counter signing by the deputy tahsildar. Petitioners contended that the GO was totally without jurisdiction, per se illegal and without authority. It violated the provisions of Articles 14 (equality) and 19(1)(g) (right to trade) of the Constitution.
In their counter affidavits, the Industries department officials submitted that illegal mining, storage and transportation of sand had been curtailed to a great extent. Thousands of cases had been registered, vehicles seized and `15 crore collected as penalties. After giving its anxious consideration, considering the constitutional provisions, Acts and the Rules and the submissions of the officials, the bench said it was of the definite opinion that Rule 38-C was fully in conformity with provisions of the Act and rules and it could not be held as an excessive exercise of power by the State.