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Monopoly of salt production by a few entrepreneurs won’t be allowed: Madras HC

Holding that deprival of equal opportunity is direct infringement on fundamental rights, the Madras High Court ordered that the leasing of salt pans be made through public auction.

Published: 23rd December 2021 05:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd December 2021 05:27 AM   |  A+A-

Madras High Court.

Madras High Court.

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: Holding that deprival of equal opportunity is direct infringement on fundamental rights, the Madras High Court ordered that the leasing of salt pans be made through public auction. It said monopoly in the hands of a few entrepreneurs should not be allowed. 

Dismissing a batch of petitions by salt manufacturers and merchants of Thoothukudi district, Justice SM Subramaniam rejected the plea for striking down an order of the Centre increasing the rentals for salt pan and on the automatic renewal of the lease period.

He said the salt manufacturers and traders have to go by the provisions of the lease agreement; and so they cannot be granted the relief as sought. Since the period of lease had admittedly expired as per the terms and conditions of the lease, the petitioners shall leave the demised premises (property on lease) within a period of three months, the judge ordered.

He directed the Union government to initiate the procedures as contemplated and as expeditiously as possible. Accordingly, the impugned order stands confirmed. Leasing of Central government lands for 99 years or automatic renewal of lease would infringe the rights of all other citizen, who all are longing and aspiring to get an opportunity into the field of manufacturing of salt or related trade activities. 

Deprival of equal opportunity is directly infringing on the fundamental right. Noting that the government must control the market price of salt, the judge said the Central and State governments are equally duty-bound to protect the interests of the public by implementing open auction process.

The petitioners had challenged Centre’s executive circular of 2013, increasing the ground rent to Rs 120 a tonne an acre from Rs 5 and raising the minimum assignment fee to Rs 100 a tonne an acre.



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