SC rejects plea of Vedanta to export iron ore from Karnataka

SC rejects plea of Vedanta to export iron ore from Karnataka

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today rejected a plea of Vedanta Ltd to be allowed to export iron ore mined from Karnataka, saying the inability to sell cannot be a ground for exporting the mineral.

“Insofar as the statements made on behalf of Vedanta Limited are concerned, all we would like to observe, at this stage, is that the inability of Vedanta Limited to sell the output from its leases, as expressed, could very well be because of the pricing patterns adopted by it.

“Inability to sell on account of higher prices cannot be a ground for export of the mineral, at least at this stage of developments pursuant to the final order dated 18.04.2013…,” a bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi, P C Pant and A M Khanwilkar said.

The bench meanwhile allowed National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) to continue with the dual pricing of the minerals.

The apex court, in its order, said the permission for export must be governed by “norms and parameters of general application as distinguished from ad hoc decisions in individual cases.”

Till the time the guidelines are framed, Vedanta’s plea for permission to export cannot be allowed, it said.

The firms had alleged that NMDC had been fixing the sale price by adopting Pan India uniform pricing. However, since April this year, by taking advantage of an increased demand, a differential pricing policy has been adopted for Karnataka.

“We had held that the issue of base price should be left to be decided by the concerned lessee. This has been affirmed in our final order dated April 18, 2013 disposing of Petition.

“A somewhat similar prayer made by the present applicant — Karnataka Iron and Steel Manufactures Association to tag/ fix the base price to the sale price fixed by the NMDC in a situation where private leaseholders were artificially hiking their prices, was rejected by this Court on February 24, 2014…,” the court said.

Vedanta Ltd had challenged the decision by a court- appointed monitoring committee denying it nod to export.

The court also rejected a plea by Karnataka Iron and Steel Manufacturers’ Association (KISMA) to do away with the NMDC’s policy of dual pricing of the iron ore.

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