Supreme Court dismisses Vedanta’s petition for expedited hearing in Madras High Court

Supreme Court dismisses Vedanta’s petition for expedited hearing in Madras High Court

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today dismissed the petition filed by Vedanta seeking an expedited hearing in the case before the Madras High Court for reopening its Sterlite Copper plant at Thoothukudi.

The petition also sought permission for plant to be opened for the purpose of cleaning.

The Bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and Vineet Saran dismissed the petition, terming it “frivolous litigation“.

We are not here to control the High Court”, remarked Justice Nariman.

The Court expressed its inclination to dismiss the petition with costs. However, it refrained from doing so after Senior Counsel appearing for Vedanta, Aryama Sundaram, withdrew the petition.

In February this year, Vedanta had moved a petition in the Madras High Court to reopen the Sterlite Copper plant after the Supreme Court granted Vedanta liberty to move the High Court.

The Bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and B Nirmal Kumar issued notice in the matter on March 1. However, the High Court refused to allow Vedanta’s plea for interim access to the plant for the purpose of maintenance and basic administration. On March 19, the High Court fixed April 23 as the date for hearing the matter.

Vedanta has challenged a series of closure orders passed last year by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to shut down the Sterlite Copper plant citing environmental violations before the High Court.

The closure came amidst popular protest against the proposed expansion of its plant. These protests took a violent turn when the police opened fire on unarmed civilian protestors in May last year, leading to at least thirteen casualties. The move to shut down the Sterlite plant was also supported by the Tamil Nadu government.

In December last year, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) allowed Vedanta’s challenge to the closure orders and permitted the reopening of the Sterlite plant. However, the Supreme Court set aside this ruling in February this year, on the ground that the NGT did not have jurisdiction to pass the ruling. This, in turn, paved the way for Vedanta to file its petition before the Madras High Court.

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