Order imposing penalty for illegal mining, passed without hearing the mining leaseholder, not sustainable under law: Karnataka HC

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench comprising of CJ Dinesh Maheshwari and S. Sujatha, J. allowed a civil writ petition challenging the imposition of penalty on the petitioner for carrying out illegal mining.

Petitioner, a mining leaseholder for a particular tract of land, preferred the instant petition being aggrieved of the notice-cum-order issued by the respondent demanded a sum of Rs 3 lakh as penalty for conducting illegal mining activity outside the leased area.

The Court noted the undisputed fact that before calling upon the petitioner to remit the penalty by way of the impugned order, he was not served with a prior notice of the demand sought to be made. It was observed that the impugned notice was issued without extending an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner. Thus, it was held that the respondent could not recover penalty under the impugned notice.

In the interest of justice, the Court converted the impugned notice/order into a show cause notice and the petitioner was directed to make part payment of penalty in order to avail the opportunity of hearing. Respondents were directed to not adopt coercive recovery proceedings against the petitioner in relation to the remaining amount until a final decision was issued in the matter.

The petition was disposed of with a direction that if the petitioner submits Rs 1 lakh with the Director of Mines and Geology, the impugned demand notice shall be treated as show cause notice. The respondent was directed to take a final decision on the matter after hearing submissions of the petitioner, at the earliest.[G. Basavaraju v. State of Karnataka, 2018 SCC OnLine Kar 2706, decided on 29-11-2018]

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