The Supreme Court has denied interim relief to Vedanta's plea refusing immediate reopening of Sterlite plant at Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu. A three-judge bench headed by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman posted the case for hearing in January 2021.
Vedanta in its petition, filed before the SC, has challenged an August 2020 verdict by the Madras High Court rejecting a plea from the mining giant for permission to reopen its Sterlite copper unit at Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu, which has been shut since May 2018 over violations of environmental laws.
A division bench of Justices T S Sivagnanam and V Bhavani Subbaroyan upheld the orders of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) directing the closure of the unit in May 2018. It had on January 9 this year reserved orders on the matter.
The court, in its over 800-page judgment, dismissed a batch of writ petitions from Vedanta and others challenging the closure of the unit, which was at the centre of massive violent protests over pollution concerns.
Vedanta had approached the High Court in February, 2019, seeking to reopen the Sterlite plant, which was closed following a May 23, 2018 order issued by the TNPCB in the backdrop of violent protests against the unit that left 13 people dead in police firing on May 21 and 22.
The company had filed the petition in the high court as suggested by the SC, which had on February 18, 2019 set aside the National Green Tribunal order that allowed the opening of the Sterlite Plant.
Several people hailed the High Court judgment in Thoothukudi in southern Tamil Nadu by distributing sweets and bursting fire crackers.
Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam welcomed the ruling, saying it reflected the thoughts of crores of people. DMK President M K Stalin said he bowed before the court for its judgment.
Meanwhile, in its arguments during the hearing, Vedanta had claimed the closure order was nothing but ''naked discrimination'' against the company and a knee-jerk reaction from the state to ''appease'' a section of public with vested interest.
Rejecting the charges, the state government had submitted that it has full authority and powers to shut down a factory when it causes serious threat to the environment and ecology.
The Sterlite unit had flouted many rules which amounted to violation of statutory provisions warranting closure of the factory, it had told the court.