Mining lease = W.P.No.21956 of 2012 is filed challenging the said proceedings- About four months thereafter, the 2nd respondent addressed a letter dated 23-07- 2010 to the 1st respondent, stating that 30 to 40% of the area, as regards which, approval was accorded under Section 17-A(2) of the Act, comprises of villages, towns Mandal headquarters, houses, buildings, inhabitations, etc, apart from railway lines, roads, rivers etc. It was mentioned that a detailed exercise needs to be undertaken to segregate and exclude such areas, before the activity of mining is undertaken. It ultimately requested the 1st respondent to keep the proceedings dated 25-09-2009 in abeyance. Acting on that, the 1st respondent issued proceedings dated 17-08-2010, revoking its approval accorded by it.= It is only the 2nd respondent, or at best the 4th respondent that can felt aggrieved by revocation. None of them have expressed any grievance about that orders, obviously because the revocation was almost invited. Hence, the contention advanced on behalf of the petitioner, in this regard, cannot be accepted. The agreement entered into between the petitioner and the 4th respondent was almost in the form of a promise, contingent upon accrual of rights in favour of the 4th respondent. No valid legal or absolute rights have accrued to the petitioner. Even if the agreement is in force, it could not have been implemented, unless the land was made over to the 4th respondent.- This Court does not find any illegality or infirmity in the impugned proceedings, and even if there is scope for interference, it cannot be at the instance of the petitioner. W.P.Nos.21956 of 2010; 31370 of 2010 and 22525 of 2012 are accordingly dismissed. W.P.No.25114 of 2012 is disposed of, directing that in case the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant makes, or has already made an application for captive mining, it shall be considered by the respondents, on its own merits. The miscellaneous petitions filed in the writ petitions shall also stand disposed of. There shall be no order as to costs.


THE HON'BLE SRI JUSTICE L.NARASIMHA REDDY        
Writ Petition Nos.21956 of 2010; 31370 of 2010; 22525 of 2012 and 25114 of 2012

28-01-2013

M/s Rakshana Steels Limited and its Consortium, rep. by its Director, Sri U.
Kondala Rao and another                                        

The Union of India,rep. by the Secretary, Ministry of Mines,New Delhi & others

Counsel for the petitioners: Sri  B. Narayana Reddy

Counsel for respondents   : Sri Ponnam Ashok Goud, for R-1 G.P for Mines and
Geology for RRs 2 and 3 Sri V. Subrahmanyam for R-4

<Gist:

>Head Note:

Citations:
1) AIR 1957 SC 676
2) AIR 1958 SC 1018
3) AIR 1959 SC 609
4) AIR 1995 AP 1 (FB)

COMMON JUDGMENT:      

There are deposits of considerable volume of iron ore, in an area of about
1,50,000 acres spread over different villages of Bayyaram, Garla and
Nelakondapally Mandals of Khammam District and the neighbouring Mandal of Gudur   
in Warangal District.  
The land is part of scheduled area.  
According to Section
11(5) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (for
short 'the Act'), a) prospecting licence or mining lease to exploit any
minerals, within the scheduled area can be granted only in favour of a)
Scheduled Tribes; b) societies formed for scheduled tribes, or c) the State-
owned Corporations; undertaking such activity.  Approval of the Central
Government is necessary for this.

In the year 2006, the Government of Andhra Pradesh, the
2nd respondent herein, submitted a proposal to the Government of India, the 1st
respondent, to accord approval for reserving the area in favour of the A.P.
Mineral Development Corporation Limited, the
4th respondent.  The same was pending.

The 2nd respondent issued memo dated 03-01-2009, according permission to the  
A.P. Mineral Development Corporation Limited (for short 'the 4th respondent'), a
State-owned entity, to invite 'Expression of Interest' from eligible applicants
for setting up of Integrated Steel Plant, including beneficiation, to process
the deposits of iron ore, available in the four Mandals, referred to above,
under a joint venture.  
Accordingly, the 4th respondent published a notification
on 17-01-2009, inviting the applications.  
M/s Rakshana Steels Limited, the
petitioner in W.P.Nos.21956, 31370 of 2010 and 22525 of 2012 came forward with a
proposal.  
Another applicant was M/s Pioneer Torsteels Mills Private Limited.

The 2nd respondent issued G.O.Ms.No.28, Industrial and Commerce (M.III)
Department dated 31-01-2009, constituting a Committee, comprising of Secretary
to Government, Industries and Commerce Department; Finance Secretary; Vice-
Chairman and Managing Director, A.P. Industrial Infrastructure Corporation
Limited (APIIC); Director of Mines and Geology, and Vice-Chairman and Managing
Director of the 4th respondent to process the applications.
 It appears that the
committee examined the matter and submitted a report, recommending the  
acceptance of the application of M/s Rakshana Steels Limited, (for short 'the
petitioner').  
The 2nd respondent examined that report and issued G.O.Ms.No.69,
Industries and Commerce Department  
dated 24-02-2009, notifying its acceptance and approval for the proposal.
The
relevant conditions were incorporated.

The 4th respondent entered into "Iron Ore Supply agreement" on 25-02-2009 with
the petitioner, undertaking to supply iron ore, that would be extracted from the
area mentioned above.
 However, the arrangement under the agreement was subject  
to the grant of approval by the 1st respondent, and grant of mining lease by the
2nd respondent. 

The 1st respondent accorded its approval under Section 17A(2) of the Act, for
reserving the iron ore bearing areas in the three Mandals in Khammam District in
favour of the 4th respondent for a period of ten years, vide proceedings dated
25-09-2009.  Based upon this approval, the 2nd respondent issued G.O.Rt.No.64,
dated 30-06-2010, reserving the said area in favour of the
4th  respondent.

About four months thereafter, the 2nd respondent addressed a letter dated 23-07-
2010 to the 1st respondent, stating that 30 to 40% of the area, as regards
which, approval was accorded under Section 17-A(2) of the Act, comprises of
villages, towns Mandal headquarters, houses, buildings, inhabitations, etc,
apart from railway lines, roads, rivers etc. 
 It was mentioned that a detailed
exercise needs to be undertaken to segregate and exclude such areas, before the
activity of mining is undertaken.  
It ultimately requested the 1st respondent to
keep the proceedings 
dated 25-09-2009 in abeyance.  
Acting on that, the 1st respondent issued
proceedings dated 17-08-2010, revoking its approval accorded by it.
W.P.No.21956 of 2012 is filed challenging the said proceedings.

As a sequel to the revocation of approval by the
1st respondent, the 2nd respondent issued G.O.Ms.No.126, dated
09-12-2010, cancelling its orders in G.O.Ms.No.64, dated 30-06-2010, whereunder
the area was reserved in favour of the 4th respondent.  W.P.No.31370 of 2010 is
filed challenging the same.

As a fall out of these developments, the 2nd respondent has issued
G.O.Ms.No.106, dated 07-07-02012, cancelling the G.O.Ms.No.69, dated 24-02-2009,
whereunder the approval was accorded to the 4th respondent to enter into an
agreement with the petitioner.
Writ Petition No.22525 of 2012 is filed
challenging the G.O.Ms.No.106 dated 07-07-2012.

The Visakhapatnam Steel Plant Employees Union filed W.P.No.25114 of 2012 with a  
prayer to direct the 1st and
2nd respondents to allot the land referred to above in favour of the Rashtriya
Ispat Nigam Limited for captive mining.

The petitioner contends that the action of the respondents
1 and 2 in cancelling the proceedings accorded by them at various stages is
illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional.  It is pleaded that the approval was
accorded by the respondents 1 and 2 under the relevant provisions of law, after
following the due procedure and on being satisfied about the compliance with the
directions.  According to them, the respondents 1 and 2 do not have any power to
revoke the statutory orders once issued, and such an exercise is untenable in
law.  Another contention of the petitioner is that the reasons furnished by the
respondents, while revoking the approvals are not germane to the subject-matter
and that the impugned orders were passed on extraneous considerations.
The petitioner further contends that valuable rights have accrued to it on the
basis of the agreement executed in its favour, and that the impugned orders are
violative of principles of natural justice, apart from having the effect of
defeating its legitimate expectations.

The 1st respondent filed a detailed counter-affidavit.  It is stated that though
approval was accorded for reserving vast extent of mineral bearing area in
favour of the 4th respondent, it ultimately emerged that no exercise was
undertaken to segregate the area covered by Villages, houses, railway lines,
roads, rivers, etc., and in that view of the matter, the revocation was
effected.
It is stated that the petitioner has no locus standi to challenge any orders,
since it is not a party to the proceedings.

On behalf of the respondents 2 and 3, counter-affidavit is filed, justifying
their actions.  It is stated that except that an agreement was entered into
between the petitioner and the
4th respondent, in anticipation of lease being granted, no rights whatever were
conferred upon the petitioner and that it has no standing to challenge the
orders, particularly when the
4th respondent itself did not feel aggrieved by the cancellation.  It is also
stated that large scale mining, which may be undertaken in such a vast extent,
would certainly have its impact upon several villages, railway lines, roads,
rivers, etc., and in that view of the matter, a request was made to the 1st
respondent to keep the order of approval in abeyance, so that further steps can
be taken after thorough verification is done.  The 2nd respondent contends that
once the 1st respondent has chosen to revoke the order of approval, it becomes
impermissible for them, i.e., respondents 2 to 4 to take up any steps for grant
of mining lease.  It is pleaded that an authority, which has passed an order,
has inherent and implied power to revoke the same, and the petitioner has no
right to challenge the impugned orders.

The petitioners in W.P.No.25114 of 2012 tried to make an endeavour to get the
land allotted in favour of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, for captive mining.

Sri Vedula Venkata Ramana, learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner submits
that the petitioner responded to a notification, inviting 'expression of
interest' issued by the 4th respondent with the approval of the 2nd respondent,
and once the proposal was accepted and an agreement was entered into,  
it is not at all open to the 1st respondent to revoke the approval, accorded by
it, in exercise of statutory power.
He submits that respondents 1 to 4 passed
orders granting approval etc., strictly in accordance with law, and there was
absolutely no basis for them in issuing the impugned orders.  He contends that
the 1st respondent is not conferred with the power to review or revoke its
orders, nor Section 21 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 confers such powers.

The second contention of the learned Senior Counsel is that the reasons
furnished by the respondents 1 and 2 in revoking the various orders of approval
passed by them are not at all relevant and they have been pressed into service,
to sustain the otherwise untenable orders.
  He submits that the respondents were
very much aware of the fact that the vast extent of area is naturally dotted
with villages and towns and the mining activity could certainly have been
restricted to such of the areas, which are not covered by houses, inhabitations,
railway lines, roads, etc.

Thirdly learned Senior Counsel submits that though the request of the 2nd
respondent to the 1st respondent was to keep the approval in abeyance, the 1st
respondent proceeded a step further and revoked it altogether.  According to
him, the act of the
2nd respondent in requiring the 1st respondent to keep the proceedings of the
1st respondent in abeyance amounts to interference with the statutory power of
the 1st respondent and by acceding to that request, the 1st respondent has
surrendered its powers.
He placed reliance upon several judgments rendered by
the Supreme Court.

Learned Advocate-General appeared for the respondents
2 to 4.  He submits that in G.O.Ms.No.69, dated 24-02-2009 itself,
it was clearly mentioned that the various steps contemplated in it are subject
to reservation of the iron ore bearing areas in favour of the 4th respondent, by
the 1st respondent and knowing fully well, the uncertainty in the matter, the
petitioner has come forward, to express its interest, and has become a party to
the agreement.
He submits that if at all anything, it is only an inchoate right, that has
accrued to the petitioner, that too against the 4th respondent and that it has
no right to challenge the orders passed by the respondents 1 and 2.  He contends
that the purport of the agreement between the petitioner and the 4th respondent
is speculative in nature.  It is urged that the Bank guarantee furnished under
the agreement had expired and that the clauses in the contract cannot be
enforced even in a civil suit. Mention is made of clause 26 of the agreement.
According to the learned Advocate-General, the only remedy available for the
petitioner is to claim damages, if otherwise permissible in law.  He too relied
upon certain decisions.

Sri Ponnam Ashok Gound, learned Assistant Solicitor General submits that the 1st
respondent had revoked the approval accorded by it, in view of the
representation made to the
2nd respondent.  
He contends that when such a large extent is involved, the
exercise of segregating the area covered by houses, inhabitations, railway lines
etc., ought to have been undertaken much in advance.  He submits that the 1st
respondent has inherent powers to cancel the orders passed by it, and that no
illegality has taken place in the matter.

Sri B. Tarakam, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the persons, who got
themselves impleaded in the writ petitions submits that the applications
submitted by the impleaded parties for grant of mining lease were not considered
on account of the reservation of the area in favour of the 4th respondent.  He
submits that since impleaded parties are tribals, there is no prohibition in law
for grant of leases in their favour and that the orders impugned in the writ
petition do not warrant interference.

Sri S. Satya Prasad, learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner in W.P.No.25114
of 2012 submits that the petitioner, i.e. M/s Rakshana Steels Limited, has
undertaken a speculative activity and though respondents 1 and 2 took various
steps to the advantage of the petitioner, corrective steps were taken on
realising that serious illegality has crept in.  He submits that the respondents
1 and 2 i.e. State and Central Government were indifferent to the genuine
necessity of a major public sector undertaking for captive mining and now that
the impediments do not exist, necessary directions may be issued for grant of
captive mining lease, in favour of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant.

The Act and the Rules made thereunder prescribe the procedure, to be followed
for grant of mining leases to quarry different minerals and metals.  Iron ore is
classified as major mineral.  Deposits thereof were noticed in about 1.5 lakhs
of acres in three Mandals of Khammam District and one Mandal of Warangal  
District, mentioned in the preceding paragraphs.  These Mandals, however, are in
the scheduled area.  Section 11(5) of the Act places restrictions, on grant of
mining leases in respect of lands, which are in the scheduled area.  The
prospecting licence or mining lease in respect of such lands can be granted only
in favour of the persons, who are scheduled tribes, or societies, that have the
scheduled tribes as its members, or any State-owned Corporations.  While licence
or lease can be granted to first two categories straightaway, approval of the
1st respondent is necessary, to reserve the mineral bearing lands in scheduled
areas, in favour of a State-owned Corporation.
Section 17-A of the Act provides
for this.  It reads,


"Sec.17-A:  Reservation of area for purposes of conservation:-

(1) The Central Government, with a view to conserving any mineral and after
consultation with the State Government may reserve any area not already held
under any prospecting licence or mining lease and, where it proposes to do so,
it shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify the boundaries of
such area and the mineral or minerals in respect of which such area will be
reserved.
(1A)    The Central Government may, in consultation with the State Government,
reserve any area not already held under any prospecting licence or mining lease,
for undertaking prospecting or mining operations through a Government company or
corporation owned or controlled by it, and where it proposes to do so, it shall,
by notification in the Official Gazette, specify the boundaries of such area and
the mineral or minerals in respect of which such area will be reserved.
(2) The State Government may, with the approval of the Central Government,
reserve any area not already held under any prospecting licence or mining lease,
for undertaking prospecting or mining operations through a Government company or
Corporation owned or controlled by and where it proposes to do so, it shall by
notification in the Official Gazette, specify the boundaries of such area and
the mineral or minerals in respect of which such areas will be reserved.
(3) Where in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1A) or sub-section
(2) the Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be
undertakes prospecting or mining operations in any area in which the minerals
vest in a private person, it shall be liable to pay prospecting fee, royalty,
surface rent or dead rent, as the case may be, from time to time at the same
rate at which it would have been payable under this Act if such prospecting or
mining operations had been undertaken by a private person under prospecting
licence or mining lease".


In case the 4th respondent intended to carry out mining of iron ore in the area,
referred to above, and the
2nd respondent was convinced with the ability and potential of the 4th
respondent in this behalf, steps could have been initiated to seek approval of
the 1st respondent under Section 17-A of the Act.  As a matter of fact, such
proposals were submitted in the year 2006 itself.  However, even before any
positive response came from the
1st respondent, respondents 2 and 4 became hyperactive in the year 2009.  The
4th respondent approached the 2nd respondent to accord permission for inviting
expression of interest from the interested agencies.  The 2nd respondent acceded
to the request and issued G.O.Ms.No.69, dated 24-02-2009, according its
permission.  Based upon that, the 4th respondent invited applications, which, in
turn, were scrutinised by the committee, constituted by the 2nd respondent.
Ultimately, the petitioner came to be selected.  After obtaining permission from
the 2nd respondent, the 4th respondent proceeded to execute "iron ore supply
agreement" with the petitioner, on 25-02-2009.  For all practical purposes, the
4th respondent wanted to become or act as a conduit to enable the petitioner to
overcome the rigor of Sections 11(5) and 17-A of the Act.

Everything went on smoothly, till the 1st respondent accorded its approval
through its letter dated 25-09-2009 for reserving the area in favour of the 4th
respondent and the 2nd respondent issued G.O.Ms.No.64, dated 30-06-2010,
implementing the reservation.  Thereafter, the events took a different turn.

The 2nd respondent came forward with the plea that about 30 to 40% area of the
land mentioned in the proceedings is covered by houses, habitations, railway
lines, roads, rivers etc., and unless proper segregation takes place, further
activity may not be advisable.  On reasons, it wanted the 1st respondent to keep
the letter dated 25-09-2009 in abeyance.  The latter took the view that there is
no provision to keep the proceedings in abeyance, and that even on facts, it is
not advisable to permit the state of affairs to remain the same.  It accordingly
issued proceedings dated
17-08-2005 revoking its earlier approval.  This was followed by the cancellation
of the G.O.Ms.No.69, dated 24-02-2009 and G.O.Ms.No.64 dated 30-06-2010.  

The root cause for the various steps mentioned above is the revocation of
approval by the 1st respondent.  The first contention advanced by the
petitioners is that the 1st respondent is not conferred with the power to revoke
an otherwise legal and valid order passed by it.  It is true that there is no
provision in the Act, which empowers the 1st respondent to review or revoke the
orders passed by it under Section 17-A.  However, if one takes into account, the
purport of Section 21 of the General Clauses Act, it becomes clear that an
authority that is conferred with the power to pass any orders or to make
Regulations possesses the inherent power to modify, change or even to revoke
such orders of Regulations.
Section 21 of the General Clauses Act reads,

"Sec.21: Power to issue, to include power to add to, amend, vary or rescind
notifications, orders, rules or bye-laws
Where, by any Central Act or Regulation, a power to issue notifications, orders,
rules or bye-laws is conferred, then that power includes a power, exercisable in
the like manner and subject to the like sanction and conditions if any, to add
to, amend, vary or rescind any notifications, orders, rules or bye-laws so
issued".

Learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner submits that the power under this
provision cannot be utilized to withdraw an order, which is otherwise passed in
accordance with law.  He has placed reliance upon the judgments of the Supreme
Court in KAMLA PRASAD KHETAN AND ANOTHER v. UNION OF INDIA1; STATE OF BIHAR v.              
D.N. GANGULY AND OTHERS2, and GOPI CHAND v. DELHI ADMINISTRATION3 and that of            
this Court in GOVERNMENT OF ANDHRA PRADESH AND ANOTHER v. Y.S. VIVEKANANDA REDDY                  
AND OTHERS4.  

In the first of the citations, referred to above, the Hon'ble Supreme Court took
note of the fact that Section 21 of the General Clauses Act contains an inbuilt
protection, namely, that even where that provision is invoked, an order
amending, varying or rescinding the earlier one can be made only by following
the procedure, that is prescribed for making the original order.  The expression
"in the like manner" employed in the section was highlighted.  If, for instance,
the making of an order or issuance of a notification by an authority acting
under a provision of law needs the prior approval of a superior authority, an
order amending, varying or rescinding the same can be passed only by following
the same procedure, namely, obtaining prior approval.  Similarly, if a valid
order can be made only by publishing in a gazette, the one, which is passed
rescinding or amending it can be passed, in the like manner.  The second
restriction placed upon exercise of power under Section 21 of the General
Clauses Act is that, it cannot be utilized to widen the scope of the provision
under which, the original order is passed.  Similar view, but with emphasis on
different aspects, was taken in other two judgments of the Supreme Court.

In the judgment rendered in GOVERNMENT OF ANDHRA PRADESH AND ANOTHER v. Y.S.            
VIVEKANANDA REDDY AND OTHERS (4 Supra), a Full Bench of this Court was dealing      
with a case, where the approval accorded by the Government, enabling the A.P.
Mineral Development Corporation Limited was rescinded after the lease deeds were
executed and the work under the leases has commenced.
This Court found fault with the same.

In the instant case, the series of the orders, be it, those, passed in exercise
of powers under the relevant provisions, or rescinding or withdrawing them came
into existence under peculiar circumstances.
The 1st respondent accorded its
approval under Section 17-A(2) of the Act, for reserving the area in favour of
the 4th respondent on a request made by the 2nd respondent.
However, the 2nd respondent itself wanted the order of approval to be kept in abeyance, by citing
certain reasons, which have already been elaborated in the preceding paragraphs.
Since there is no provision for keeping an order passed under Section 17-A(2) of
the Act in abeyance, the 1st respondent thought it fit to withdraw the same.
 It is only the 2nd respondent, or at best the 4th respondent that can felt
aggrieved by revocation. 
None of them have expressed any grievance about that
orders, obviously because the revocation was almost invited.  
Hence, the
contention advanced on behalf of the petitioner, in this regard, cannot be
accepted.

The agreement entered into between the petitioner and the 4th respondent was
almost in the form of a promise, contingent upon accrual of rights in favour of
the 4th respondent.  No valid legal or absolute rights have accrued to the
petitioner. Even if the agreement is in force, it could not have been
implemented, unless the land was made over to the 4th respondent.

The contract between the 4th respondent and the petitioner can at the most be
said to have given rise to certain contingent rights.  An important fact that
needs to be taken into account is that there is no privity of contract between
the petitioner, on the one hand, and the respondent No. 1 or 2, on the other
hand.  The petitioner has to depend upon the existence of absolute right in the
4th respondent, to carry out mining operations; to enforce its rights under the
agreement.  Even this would be purely in the realm of common law.  The clauses
in the contract provide for adjudication of dispute in a Civil Court.

It is strongly urged that the letter dated 17-08-2010 issued by the 1st
respondent would amount to review of its earlier letter dated 25-02-2009, and
unless power of review is specifically conferred,
it cannot be exercised by an authority.  As part of the same contention, it is
pleaded that even where Section 21 of the General Clauses Act gets attracted, it
would not clothe the authority to exercise power of review.

In this regard, a distinction between exercise of power of review, on the one
hand, and the power to revoke an order, on the other; is to be maintained.
Review is  re-examination of the matter on merits, and arriving at a different
conclusion.  This may result in either a complete modification, or a slight
change, of the order passed by an authority.  Revocation, on the other hand, is
a total obliteration of an order passed earlier.  The order dated 17-08-2010 is
clear in its purport and it does nothing short of revoking and wiping away the
order dated 25-09-2009. Therefore, it is difficult to treat the exercise
undertaken by the 1st respondent as the one of review.

The second point of distinction is in relation to the parties to the
proceedings.  Even within the category of quasi judicial proceedings, there are
some, which partake the adversarial character, in which, two competing parties
are pitted against each other.  Other proceedings are purely administrative and
hierarchiral in nature.  The exercise of review or modification of the orders by
an authority would certainly affect the rights of the parties, in case the
proceedings are adversarial in nature.  The rights that have accrued to a party,
cannot be taken away except by following the procedure prescribed by law. It
would be so, even where one of the parties to the proceedings is the State
itself.  In the instant case, the proceedings before the 1st respondent are not
adversarial in nature.  They fall into the second category.  The State
Government  alone was the party before the Central Government, without there
being any adversary.  If at all anyone, it is only the State Government that can
feel aggrieved by the revocation of approval.  The petitioner does not figure
anywhere in that set of proceedings.  Therefore, it cannot be said that the 1st
respondent lacks jurisdiction to issue proceedings dated 17-08-2010.

The second contention urged by the petitioner is that the reasons mentioned by
the respondents 1 and 2 in various proceedings are not germane to the issued
involved.  To be precise, the plea is that, in case 30 to 40% of the area is
covered by habitations and common facilities, the mining could have been
undertaken in such a way, that no harm is caused to them.  Here again, the
petitioner has no say in the matter.  It cannot compel the respondents 1 and 2
to take steps, that are pleaded to sustain an otherwise speculative agreement,
which it has entered into with the 4th respondent.  The enforcement of the
agreement by the petitioner is totally dependent upon the prospecting licence or
mining lease being granted in favour of the 4th respondent.  That having been
not taken place and the 4th respondent not making any grievance of the orders
passed by the respondents 1 and 2, the petitioner cannot be said to have
suffered any detriment, that can be redressed in law.  By the same reasoning, it
cannot convince about the legality or otherwise of the reasons, that are stated
by respondents 1 and 2, in respect of the various orders passed by it.

The plea as to legitimate expectation is equally unacceptable. The relationship
between the petitioner and the respondents is such that, hardly there can be any
expectation, much less legitimate expectation.  Further, at
no point of time, the respondents 1 and 2 have held out any promise to the
petitioner.  When the 4th respondent itself is not in a position to undertake
any activity by itself, the question of its passing on the benefits of such
activity to the petitioner does not arise.

It may be true that the petitioner has an expectation of high order on the
assumption that its agreement with the 4th respondent would work out smoothly.
However, the agreement itself was contingent in nature and there is vast element
of speculation in it.  An expectation can be treated as legitimate, if only the
rights have straightaway accrued to a citizen on the basis of the acts, that
emanated from the State, in exercise of statutory power.  Howsoever attractive
the expectation may be, it cannot be treated as legitimate, if it is shadowed
and clouded by several imponderables.  Added to that, the only agency against
which the petitioner can have legitimate expectation is the 4th respondent.
In case the 4th respondent had a valid lease in its favour, the petitioner had
an agreement with it, and the latter had resiled from it, the petitioner could
have maintained a writ petition against the 4th respondent by pressing the
ground of legitimate expectation.

It has already been mentioned that at no point of time, the 4th respondent had
any rights to its credit and the slight progress that was recorded in the
direction of granting lease has been retarded with the same speed, that too, at
the instance of the State Government i.e. the 2nd respondent.

Being what it is, the 4th respondent cannot have any qualms with its creator,
the 2nd respondent, much less can it find fault with the impugned orders.  The
petitioner has to sail or sink with the
4th respondent.  
As a matter of fact, the element of uncertainty was brightly
apparent and looming in the agreement itself from the inception.  If at all
anyone, the petitioner had to blame itself for entering into such a speculative
enterprise.  
The steps taken by the respondents 2 to 4 that inspired the
petitioner and other agencies to express their interest in a non-existent
project are far from satisfactory, apart from being unwarranted. Such steps
would certainly tell upon the credibility of the State as such.  A workable
contract or project of such a gigantic size ought to have been undertaken with
utmost precaution and after thorough study and examination of every stage.

This Court does not find any illegality or infirmity in the impugned
proceedings, and even if there is scope for interference, it cannot be at the
instance of the petitioner.

W.P.Nos.21956 of 2010; 31370 of 2010 and 22525 of 2012 are accordingly  
dismissed. 

W.P.No.25114 of 2012 is disposed of, directing that in case the Visakhapatnam
Steel Plant makes, or has already made an application for captive mining, it
shall be considered by the respondents, on its own merits.

The miscellaneous petitions filed in the writ petitions shall also stand
disposed of.   There shall be no order as to costs.
______________________  
L.NARASIMHA REDDY, J    
Dt:28-01-2013

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