Closure of Sterlite copper unit in Tamil Nadu: Supreme Court to consider hearing plea of Vedanta

Earlier, the top court had said that it had directed the registrar to allocate "two dedicated dates" for hearing the Vedanta group's plea.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jan 02, 2024 | 1:38 PMUpdatedJan 02, 2024 | 2:42 PM


The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, 2 January, agreed to consider hearing the Vedanta group’s plea related to the closure of its Sterlite copper unit in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra took note of the submissions of senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the Vedanta group firm, that the matter needed to be heard.

The senior lawyer said the matter was listed on 22 January and urged the Bench that the matter be heard.

The CJI said that the counsel for the parties will be informed after he ascertains during the day whether any Constitution Bench matters are listed for hearing.

Earlier, the top court had said it had directed the registrar to allocate “two dedicated dates” for hearing the Vedanta group’s plea.

Related: IPS officer who ordered firing on anti-Sterlite activists accused of sexual abuse

Earlier order

The top court had, in May last year, asked the Tamil Nadu government to take appropriate decisions in pursuance of its 10 April direction by which it had allowed the Vedanta group to carry out the upkeep of its Sterlite copper unit in Thoothukudi under the supervision of a local-level monitoring committee.

In its 10 April, 2023 order, the top court had also allowed the evacuation of the remaining gypsum at the plant and made available the required manpower as requested by the company.

It had noted that the district collector had not recommended activities like undertaking a civil and structural safety integrity assessment study in the plant premises, removal and transportation of spares and equipment, and evacuation of in-process reverts and other raw materials lying idle.

“As regards the actions which were not recommended by the district collector, CS Vaidyanathan, senior counsel appearing on behalf of the state of Tamil Nadu, states that the state government will once again evaluate whether any further or supplementary directions should be issued in that regard,” the top court had noted in its 10 April order.

Also Read: Families of killed protestrs urge Stalin government to act against guilty cops

‘Steps have already been taken’

During the earlier hearing, the counsel for Tamil Nadu had said steps have already been taken for implementing the directions contained in one of the paragraphs of the 10 April order which stated that “as regards those actions which have been permitted to be carried out by the communication dated 6 March, 2023, we allow necessary consequential steps to be taken”.

“We direct that all decisions which are required to be taken in pursuance of the observations contained in paragraphs four and five of the order dated 10 April 2023, shall be taken by the state of Tamil Nadu on or before 1 June 2023,” the Bench had said.

The apex court had then listed the plea for final disposal on 22 and 23 August 2023.

At least 13 people were killed and many injured on 22 May 2018, when police opened fire on a huge crowd of people protesting against pollution allegedly caused by the copper smelting unit.

The Tamil Nadu government had, on 28 May 2018, ordered the state pollution control board to seal and “permanently” close the mining group’s plant following violent protests over pollution concerns.

Related: Probe panel report calls out statements of former CM EPS

The Commission inquiry

The Commission of Inquiry, constituted by the AIADMK government to probe firing incident accused former chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) in its report that the DMK government tabled in the state Assembly on 18 October last year.

Justice Aruna Jagadeesan Commission of Inquiry has blamed EPS for failing to act on intelligence inputs that warned of a possible law and order situation in Thoothukudi in 2018 May.

Following that the families of the victims and activists have urged the ruling DMK government to take action against police officials responsible for the killing of 13 anti-Sterlite protesters on 22 May 2018, the 100th day of protests against the Vedanta group.

The report had named top police officials and bureaucrats whose actions or inactions led to the “dastardly act”.

The Frontline published key findings of the commission, which has recommended that the Tamil Nadu government take criminal and departmental action against the erring officials.

(With PTI inputs)