CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government and Vedanta have made a joint representation to the Madras High Court registry pleading for reconsideration of the administrative order issued by former Chief Justice K Tahilramani changing the Special Bench hearing the Vedanta's pleas challenging the closure of its Sterlite Copper plant at Tuticorin.
The present plea was made in view of the fact that the original Special Bench comprising Justices TS Sivagnanam and Bhavani Subbaroyan, has already gone through the case exhaustively and extensively, so transferring the case to another Bench at this stage would cause huge delay in completing the case. Besides, the ex-CJ had issued the administrative order transferring the case owing to misunderstanding of the stage of hearing of the case before the original Special Bench, it was submitted.
Interestingly, TN Pollution Control Board and most other respondents - barring MDMK leader Vaiko and the Left - have also signed the joint representation for retaining the case with the original Special Bench.
In the joint representation to Registrar (judicial) of the High Court, made on September 20, Vedanta and the respondents have stated that they had made a joint request on September 3 to post the pleas before the original Special Bench comprising Justices Sivagnanam and Bhavani Subbaroyan, but the then CJ passed an administrative order on September 5 transferring the cases to a bench comprising Justices Sivagnanam and R Tharani in the Madurai bench.
"We understand that the direction has been issued on the understanding that only preliminary arguments on the issue of constructive res judicata have been addressed and the petitions have not been heard on merits. The factual position is however, otherwise and we would like to place on record the correct position...," the present joint representation said.
Petitioner Vedanta and the respondents have said in this representation that both the sides had since June 27 presented before the original Special Bench their arguments and submissions on merit were indeed addressed and argued at length through 28 hearing dates spread over two calendar months, including submissions by senior lawyers from outside Chennai. The matter is presently at the rejoinder submission stage by the petitioner.
Also, the parties have filed and relied extensively on many volumes of documents before the original Special Bench - the petitioner had filed 13 volumes, TN Government filed 10 volumes, and the impleaded respondents have together filed 35 volumes. Only a few final submissions were to be made and that could be finished in about four days. That being so, the September 5 administrative order would entail hearing all the petitions afresh, they said....