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Chief Justice Order Disturbs Hearing in Sterlite Copper Plant Case

Metal News - Published on Tue, 17 Sep 2019

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Hindu reported that yet another administrative order passed by Madras High Court Chief Justice Ms Vijaya Kamlesh Tahilramani, before tendering her resignation last week, has led to a change in the Division Bench of Justices TS Sivagnanam and V Bhavani Subbaroyan, who had been conducting a marathon hearing on a batch of cases filed by natural resources company Vedanta Limited against the closure of its Sterlite copper smelting plant in Thoothukudi. The administrative order passed by her on September 5 states that the case should now be listed before Justices Sivagnanam and R Tharani, who had been presiding over the court proceedings in the Madurai Bench of the High Court since September 3. The decision has come as a shock to a battery of lawyers who had argued the case for over 28 sittings between June 20 and August 30 before the earlier Bench comprising Justice Subbaroyan.

It was on February 18 this year that the Supreme Court directed Vedanta to approach the High Court against the closure of its plant by the State government and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board due to environmental concerns. Immediately, the company filed as many as 10 writ petitions in the High Court on February 22 challenging different proceedings. All those cases were admitted by the High Court on March 1.

Thereafter, a couple of judges in two different Division Benches recused from hearing the matter. Therefore, the Chief Justice on June 11 directed the High Court Registry to list the cases before a Division Bench led by Justice Sivagnanam. Since he was then leading a Bench along with Justice Subbaroyan in the principal seat of the High Court in Chennai, the cases were heard at length by them for more than two months beginning from June 20.

A battery of senior counsel representing Vedanta, the State government, TNPCB as well as a host of intervenors, including Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Vaiko, had made their submissions at length during that period.

On August 30, some lawyers sought about seven to eight more days to complete their arguments but were taken aback to know that the Chief Justice had deputed Justice Sivagnanam to the Madurai Bench for three months beginning from September 3.

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Posted By : Rabi Wangkhem on Tue, 17 Sep 2019
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