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SC slams Goa, mining firm' delay, rejects review plea in mining case (Lead)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a bunch of review petitions filed by the Goa government and a top mining company, seeking review of a 2018 judgement which had scrapped renewals of 88 mining leases in the state on the basis of procedural irregularities.

Updated Jul 20, 2021 13:45 PM

SC slams Goa, mining firm' delay, rejects review plea in mining case (Lead)

In his reaction, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said that he could not be held responsible for the delay in filing the review petition because he took charge as CM in March 2019, when the outer limit for a review petition had already lapsed. The Opposition, however, accused Sawant of fooling Goan voters by constantly promising to restart the mining industry.

The judgement by Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah had hauled the petitioners for filing the review petitions, after the retirement of Justices Madan Lokur and Deepak Gupta, who chaired the SC bench which, by its 2018 order, had scrapped the renewal process, stopping all fresh excavation of ore in the coastal state.

"Aan application for review of a judgement has to be filed within 30 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," it 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 Ltd preferred its four review petitions in the month of August 2020, right after Justice Deepak Gupta's retirement.

"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 court said.

"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.

The judgement could lead to a fresh twist to politics in poll-bound Goa, where resumption of mining activity is being billed as one of the key talking points ahead of the 2022 Assembly polls.

State Congress chief Girish Chodankar on Tuesday accused Sawant of "constantly fooling" the people of Goa with constant "false promises" to restart the mining industry in the state.

"The BJP government deliberately fooled the people of Goa, by giving them false promises on resumption of mining ahead of elections. People should now understand the real game plan of the BJP and teach them a lesson," he said.

Sawant, however, said that he could not be held responsible for the delay in filing of the review petition.

"We honour the decision (of the SC). The reason for dismissal of the petition was because of the delay of 20 to 26 months in filing the petition. I took charge in March 2019. It review petition) had been delayed months before that," Sawant said.

Sawant took charge as Chief Minister following the demise of then CM Manohar Parrikar, who was ailing for over a year, during which the opposition had alleged that decision-making in the state government had virtually ground to a halt.

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