Himachal High Court sets aside nod to Theog resort for extracting groundwater : The Tribune India

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Himachal High Court sets aside nod to Theog resort for extracting groundwater

Authority didn't adhere to law, says petitioner

Himachal High Court sets aside nod to Theog resort for extracting groundwater


Legal Correspondent

Shimla, September 26

The Himachal High Court has set aside the permission granted to Taj Resort and Spa, a unit of M/s Mahamaya INF Private Limited, Theog, by the Himachal Pradesh Ground Water Authority for extraction and augmentation of ground water. The unit has around 100 rooms and is located near Theog in Shimla district.

The court passed the order on a petition filed by residents of Basa panchayat at Theog in Shimla on the ground that the state authority while granting permit had not adhered to the provisions of the Himachal Pradesh Ground Water Act.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Virender Singh set aside the permission and observed that “it is not in dispute that after the receipt of an online application for a resort, the authority did not publish the notice in two leading daily newspapers, as is provided in terms of Rule 17 of the aforesaid Act and only displayed a copy of the notice of application on the notice board of the gram panchayat.”

The court observed that “the state holds monopoly in some fields and where the privilege of monopoly is utilised for the purposes of allocation of works or distribution of largess, it takes the colour of state largess since both statutory bodies as also the bidders or allottees are expected to benefit from distribution and allocation of such works by way of contracts. Fairness then becomes the hallmark of such a decision or else it could suffer from the vice of arbitrariness.”

The court held that “the state and its agencies/ instrumentalities must always adopt a rational method for disposal of public property and no attempt should be made to scuttle the claim of worthy applicants.

Where, it comes to alienation of natural resources such as water etc., it is the burden of the state to ensure that a non-discriminatory method is adopted for distribution and alienation, which will necessarily result in the protection of national interest.”

However, the court clarified that the order would not come in the way of the state authority in processing the application filed by Taj Resort by complying with the provisions of the Act and the rules and taking a decision in accordance with the Act and the rules.

#groundwater #Shimla


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