Kerala HC Orders Inquiry Into Deemed Licenses Obtained For Quarrying Due To Default Of Local Authorities In Contesting Cases [Read Order]
Taking note of the recurring instances where quarry and crusher operators obtained ‘deemed license’ for their activities due to failure of panchayats/municipalities concerned to appear and contest cases in the Kerala High Court, the court has ordered the Secretary of Local Self Government Department to inquire into such cases of deemed licenses.
‘Deemed license’ is obtained on failure of the Secretary to act upon the application within the statutorily stipulated period of 30 days. ‘Deemed license’ is as good as a normal license and several writ petitions are filed in the high court seeking declaration of deemed license and issuance of physical certificate to that effect, as per the ruling of the division bench in Sudhakaran v Pallichal Grama Panchayat [2O16 (2) KLT 1751].
Justice AK Jayasankaran Nambiar noticed that in most of the cases, the local authorities concerned failed to make appearances. Therefore, the court had no option but to accept the plea of the petitioners and to grant the declaration of deemed license. But the court also noted that declaration of such licenses without any contest from the local authorities was not an ideal trend, as quarrying was an activity having “significant impact on the environment”.
The court noted that the Local Self Government Department had issued a circular on 20.12.2016, directing the Secretaries to ensure proper representation in cases. But those directions were mostly observed in breach. Hence the court suo moto impleaded the Secretary of Local Self Government Department and issued directions.
“The additional 4th respondent is therefore directed to cause an enquiry to be done in the matter, and furnish a report before this Court as regards instances where deemed licences for quarrying/crushing activities have been obtained by applicants, on account of the default occasioned by the Secretaries of the various Municipalities/Panchayaths in the State, as observed above. A fresh circular, on the same lines as the earlier circular dated 20.12.2016, may also be issued by the State Government, exhorting the Secretaries of the Municipalities/Panchayaths to strictly comply with the directions therein and warning them of penal consequences in the event of default,” the court said.
Read the Order Here