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SC slams Goa govt, Vedanta for filing delayed review petitions

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has come down on the State of Goa and mining giant Vedanta for filing delayed review petitions after the judges who decided the mining lease case and delivered the judgment in the same in 2018, retired from office (Vedanta v. Goa Foundation).

In February 2018, a Bench of Justices Madan Lokur and Deepak Gupta had cancelled mining leases renewed in favour of 88 leaseholders by the State Government of Goa, after finding that the licences had been renewed in contravention of Supreme Court directions passed in 2014.

The Court while doing so had observed that "rapacious mining was going on in Goa" and the private entity who was the mining lease holder, was the beneficiary of such uncontrolled mining.

As per the Supreme Court Rules, review petitions are to be heard by the same judges who delivered the judgment, if they are available. Justice Madan Lokur who headed that Bench, had retired from the Supreme Court in December 2018 while Justice Deepak Gupta had retired in May 2020, Bar & Bench reported.

In the order passed on July 9 in the review petitions, a Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah noted that while State of Goa had preferred its four review petitions with a delay of 651 days and after the retirement of Justice Lokur , Vedanta filed its review petitions with a delay of 907 days and after Justice Deepak Gupta also demitted office.

"The judges comprising the two-judge bench in Goa Foundation II, Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, retired from this Court on 30 December 2018 and 6 May 2020, respectively. The State of Goa preferred its four review petitions in the month of November 2019, after Justice Madan B Lokur's retirement, while Vedanta Limited preferred its four review petitions in the month of August 2020, right after Justice Deepak Gupta's retirement. Such practise must be firmly disapproved to preserve the institutional sanctity of the decision making of this Court. The review petitioners were aware of the decision of this Court," the Supreme Court said in its review petition judgment.

As per the Supreme Court Rules, 2013, the limitation for filing a review petition is 30 days from the date of the judgment.

"In accordance with Rule 2 of Order XLVII of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013, an application for review of a judgement has to be filed within thirty days of the date of the judgement or order that is sought to be reviewed. No cogent grounds have been furnished for the delay between 20 and 26 months by the two parties in filing their applications for review," the Court further noted.

The Court, therefore, proceeded to dismiss the review petitions both on grounds of limitation and merits.

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