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Reko Diq case: CHEJVA declared illegal, void

The Supreme Court on Monday announced its reserved judgment in Reko Diq mining lease case declaring Chaghai Hills Exploration Joint Venture Agreement (CHEJVA) illegal as its execution was found to be contrary to several laws of the land. The apex court had reserved its judgment after completion of arguments of counsel for all the petitioners and respondents on December 21 last year.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry announced a 16-page short order in response to identical petitions filed against gold and copper mining lease in Reko Diq to a foreign company in Chaghai district of Balochistan which stands null and void after court's short order.

Announcing short order, the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry ruled, "The CHEJVA dated 23.07.1993 is held to have been executed contrary to the provisions of the Mineral Development Act, 1948, the Mining Concession Rules, 1970 framed there under, the Contract Act, 1872, the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, etc, and is even otherwise not valid, therefore, the same is declared to be illegal, void and non est".

The order maintained that the 'Novation Agreement' for the Reko Diq mining lease was purportedly made for the purpose of substituting CHEJVA, adding that the Government of Balochistan was also made a party to the Joint Venture. The order further ruled that the agreement was not permissible under Balochistan Mining Rules (BMR) 2002 as well as the Rules of Business of the Government of Balochistan (GoB), particularly Rule 7 and other rules.

"The GOB, in purported exercise of the powers vested in it under the BMR 2002, granted relaxations in violation of Rule 98 ibid as no reason was assigned for the relaxation of the relevant Rules," the order said. Declaring all the amendments in the CHEJVA illegal the order held, "The Addendum No 1 dated 04.03.2000, Option Agreement dated 28.04.2000, Alliance Agreement dated 03.04.2002 and Novation Agreement dated 01.04.2006, which are based upon, and emanate from, CHEJVA are also held to be illegal and void".

It also noted that all the agreements in result of the addendum in the instant matter do not confer any right on BHP, MINCOR, TCC, TCCP, Antofagasta or Barrick Gold. The order further held, "EL-5 is tantamount to exploration contrary to rules and regulations as the claim of TCCP is based on CHEJVA, which document itself has been held to be non est. Therefore, before exploration it was incumbent upon it to have sought rectification of its legal status".

Copyright Business Recorder, 2013


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