Sikkim High Court: The Division Bench of Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari and Meenakshi Madan Rai, JJ., heard a Public Interest Litigation relating to the issue of extraction of the groundwater through sufficient surface water was available in the State.

Central Government Counsel was asked to give reasons as to why after having sufficient surface water, the necessity of extraction of groundwater arose. Central Ground Water

Board was required to explain that on availability of sufficient surface water, why the permission had been granted to 22 companies.

The Court observed that permission so granted for extracting the ground water was conditional and nothing was available on record to show those conditions have been complied with by the industries and the Regional Authorities have recorded its satisfaction. It was also observed that it was not on record that the condition as specified had been truly implemented and who was the Authority verifying those facts and whether they had checked by spot verification.

The Court was surprised to see that even during pendency of this Public Interest Litigation permissions have been granted for extracting the ground water without mentioning the fact that such permission was subject to condition of the orders passed by the Court.

The Court went on to find that the Central Ground Water Board and its Authorities had not specified reason for granting no objection for extracting the ground water and without such reason conditional permissions were granted. The Court stated that this type of functioning of the authority could not be appreciated.

The Court concluded that as nothing was available to explain the aforesaid issue, therefore, it’s appropriate to observe that any of the permission of extraction of the ground water granted to the industries in the State must be after recording the satisfaction and by assigning the reason and in case permission/renewal was found in violation of any conditions, action taken was required to be specified to the Court. It was made clear that if any Authority was found violating the Order of the Court or power not duly exercised then they may be held responsible. A further matter to be taken up on 10-09-2021.[Discharge of Effluents by Pharma Companies, In Re., 2021 SCC OnLine Sikk 101, decided on 27-07-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

For petitioner : Ms Manita Pradhan, Amicus Curiae, Mr Sajal Sharma, Amicus Curiae.

For respondents: Dr Doma T. Bhutia, Addl. Advocate General

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