In an unprecedented development, a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam stayed Himachal Pradesh High Court decision of Rs 100 crore penalty on Jaiprakash Associates Ltd (JAL) for misrepresenting facts for securing clearances to set up a cement plant.
A bench of CJI Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi strongly disapproved of a series of orders passed by a bench headed by his immediate predecessor Altamas Kabir granting relief to Jaiprakash Associates Ltd (JAL) by virtually sitting in appeal over the order of another bench of the apex court which had declined to give concession to the construction and infrastructure group.
The orders passed by the bench headed by the ex-CJI helped the JAL to dodge depositing Rs 100 crore as penalty that Himachal Pradesh high court had slapped on it in May last year for misrepresenting facts for securing clearances to set up a cement plant.
Even in November 2012, an Supreme Court bench headed by Justice A K Patnaik refused to stay the Himachal High Court order and asked the company to meet the deadline for depositing the penalty, however, the bench led by ex-CJI Kabir passed orders enabling the company to defer paying the fine, before staying the HC order.
A bench of CJI Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi said on Wednesday observed and ordered that they didn’t approve the interim orders and rejected JAL’s plea for extension of deadline for payment of Rs 25 crore as this year’s installment for the Rs 100 crore penalty.
On May 4, 2012, Himachal Pradesh High Court had slapped a fine of Rs 100 crore on JAL for misrepresenting facts to obtain statutory permissions, including environment clearances, for setting up a cement plant. Applying the ‘polluter pays principle’, the HC bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjay Karol had asked JAL to pay the fine in yearly installments of Rs 25 crore each on August 31, 2012; March 31, 2013; March 31, 2014 and March 31, 2015.
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