Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN | Jul 28, 2012,

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has ruled that no private company can claim a right for mining leases and upheld the 2005 decision of the Jharkhand government and the Centre cancelling nine such leases.

Among those whose mining leases were cancelled included Monnet Ispat and Energy Ltd, which had signed an MoU with the state government in 2003 to set up an integrated steel plant in Hazaribagh district with a proposed investment of Rs 1,400 crore.

A bench of Justices R M Lodha and H L Gokhale said, “In view of the fact that the area is reserved for exploitation of mineral in public sector, it cannot be said that the discretion exercised by the state government suffers from any legal flaw. The area is not available for grant of mining lease in the private sector.” It added, “If the state government makes reservation in public interest with respect to minerals which vest in it for exploitation in public sector, we fail to see how such reservation can be seen as impairing the obligation cast upon the central government… No person has any fundamental right to claim that he should be granted mining lease or prospecting licence or be permitted reconnaissance operation in any land belonging to the government.”