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CJI P Sathasivam led Bench refuses to extend Order; Jai Prakash Associates Limited to pay 25 crores

Live Law News Network
24 July 2013 1:41 PM GMT
CJI P Sathasivam led Bench refuses to extend Order; Jai Prakash Associates Limited to pay 25 crores
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The Supreme Court yesterday refused to extend order passed by the predecessor bench, which granted interim protection to Jai Prakash Associates Limited from paying 25 Crores.

This civil appeal in the Supreme Court arises from a writ petition that was filed by Himprivesh Environment Protection Society before the High Court of Himachal Pradesh against setting up of cement plant and thermal plant by Jai Prakash Associates Limited (JAL). The High Court gave a judgment against JAL on 4th May, 2012 and imposed huge damages on the company. In the judgment, the High Court observed that the entire project of JAL was based on a “tissue of lies” and at every stage JAL has either given wrong information or has tried to mislead the authority.

It was found that JAL was guilty of making false statements for obtaining environmental clearances for all its projects. High Court quashed the environment clearance in respect of thermal plant. The High Court observed that even environment clearance with regard to cement plant is liable to be quashed but keeping in view livelihood of thousands of villagers, the same was allowed.

The Court further said, “After having discussed the matter in detail above and finding JAL guilty of deceit, we must make sure that neither JAL nor any other Company in the future behaves in such a manner. We have, therefore, decided to impose damages on JAL.” Damages worth Rs. 100 crores was imposed on JAL and that was supposed to be paid in four instalment of Rs. 25 crores each; the first to be paid by 31st August 2012; second by 31st March, 2013, third by 31st March 2014 and the last instalment by 31st March 2015.

JAL approached the Supreme Court against this order through a special leave petition. A Bench of Justices A K Patnaik and H L Gokhale on 26th November 2012, granted leave to appeal but a stay on the High Court order was refused. On 20th March, 2013 a Bench comprising of then Chief Justice of India, Justice Altamas Kabir gave extension of time for payment of 25 crores (which was supposed to be paid on 31st March, 2013) till 20th April, 2013. On 17th April, 2013 a Bench presided by Justice Kabir allowed the ‘interim order’ dated 20th March, 2013 to continue operation and the matter was listed for 8th May, 2013. On 8th May, 2013 the Court in its Order mentioned, “The stay granted shall continue till then”. However there was no ‘stay’ actually granted by the Court in any of the proceedings till then, though the 8th May order mentioned about a ‘stay’.

On 10th July, 2013 a Bench presided by Justice Kabir said, “Having heard learned counsel for the parties and since it has not been possible for this Bench to take up the matter, let it stand over till 23rd July, 2013,  and  be  placed  before  the Bench presided over by Hon'ble the Chief Justice. Till then, the payment of the installment shall continue to be deferred.”

Yesterday, senior counsels Abhishek Manu Singhvi and V K Gupta sought for deferring payment of the installment. Justices P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi after going through the order dated 26th November, 2012 passed by Justices Justices A K Patnaik and H L Gokhale refusing a stay, came down heavily and refused to defer payment.   
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