In the federal structure of India, the State Governments are the owners of minerals located within their respective boundaries. The Central Government is the owner of the minerals underlying the ocean within the territorial waters or the Exclusive Economic Zone of India.
In this context, the entry at serial No. 23 of List II (State, list) to the Constitution of India states, ‘Regulation of mines and mineral development subject to the provisions of List I with respect to regulation and development under the control of the Union.’
The entry at serial No. 54 of List I (Central list) to the Constitution of India states, ‘Regulation of mines and mineral development to the extent to which such regulation and development under the control of the Union is declared by Parliament by law to be expedient in the public interest.’
In pursuance to the entry at serial No. 54 of List I, the Central Government have framed legislation titled Mines & Minerals (Development and Regulation)(MMDR) Act, 1957 as Central Act No. 67 of 1957.
The State Governments grant the mineral concessions for all the minerals located within the boundary of the State, under the provisions of the MMDR Act, 1957, and Mineral Concession Rules (MCR), 1960 framed thereunder. Under the provisions of the MMDR Act, 1957 and MCR, 1960, prior approval of the Central Government is required in the following cases:
• Granting mineral concessions in respect of minerals specified in the First Schedule to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.
• Granting areas under reconnaissance permit prospecting licence and mining lease to a person in excess of limits prescribed under Section 6(1)(a)(a), 6(1)(a) and Section 6(1)(b) respectively of the Act.
• Imposing special condition(s) in mining lease under Rule 27(3), in prospecting licence under Rule 14(3) and in reconnaissance permit under Rule 7(3) of Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 over and above the conditions prescribed in MCR, 1960.
• Granting mineral concession in an area previously reserved by the Government, or previously held under a mineral concession, without first notifying the same by relaxing the provisions of Rule 59(1) of MCR, 1960 under Rule 59(2).
• Revision of any order made by State Government with respect to any mineral except a minor mineral.
• Relaxation of Rules in special cases under Section 31 of the Act, keeping in view the interest of mineral development.