Kerala High Court Holds Illegally Extracting Mines & Minerals Violating Permit Conditions Amount To 'Theft'
The Kerala High Court (HC) on 30 March 2021, in the case titled Shybi C J (Petitioner) v. The State of Kerala (Respondent), ruled that illegal extraction of mines and minerals, without a requisite permit or in violation of the permit conditions, will amount to theft under Section 379 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The HC single-judge Justice V.G. Arun referred to the precedent of the judgment in the case titled Kanwar Pal Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, Laws SC 2019 1280, wherein the Supreme Court rejected the contention that sand being an immovable property as per Section 3(26) of the General Clauses Act, its excavation will not constitute the offence of theft. It was held that, on being excavated, sand loses its attachment to the earth, ergo; it becomes movable property or goods capable of being stolen.
Justice Arun put reliance on the aforesaid judgment of the Apex Court and stated that "There is no room for doubt that illegal extraction of granite, without a requisite permit or in violation of the permit conditions, will amount to theft."
In the instant matter, the petitioner had filed a complaint before the Police alleging that the accused, in the guise of conducting a granite, quarry, and crusher unit in the name and style 'M/s Four Star Granites Ltd', is extracting granite far in excess of the permitted quantity and is thereby committing theft, which is an offence punishable under Section 379 of the IPC.
It was alleged by the petitioner that the police took no action on his complaint. Being aggrieved, the petitioner approached the HC by filing a writ petition.
The counsel appearing for the petitioner put reliance on the judgment of the case Jayant v. State of Madhya Pradesh (Criminal Appeal Nos.824-825 of 2020) and stated that illegal extraction/exploitation of natural resources will amount to theft and the same is punishable under Section 379 of IPC.
The HC while disposing of the writ petition directed the police to consider the complaint and take appropriate action within two weeks.