POSCO war zone - SC warns POSCO challenger Geomin Minerals

Publish time: 26th March, 2013      Source: ChinaCCM
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Economic Times reported that the Supreme Court took strong exceptions to Geomin Minerals and Marketing's surprising move to dump its lead counsel and to suggest that its MD be allowed to argue the case. The 2 judge bench warned the company that its entire board may face contempt of court.

Geomin is challenging Odisha government's decision to grant a captive mine to the South Korean steel major. Geomin won a favourable order in the Orissa High Court in the past. A captive mine is key to the 8 million tonne coastal steel plant which Posco has been struggling to start building in the state.

The final 2 days of arguments against this HC order provided much drama. Geomin's lead counsel Mr Jaideep Gupta made an appearance in the courtroom only to find out he was no longer wanted by his client. On Thursday March 21st an advocate on record from Amarchand & Mangaldas petitioned the court to allow the company's MD, authorized by the company Board, to argue the matter. The bench comprising Justice Mr RM Lodha and Justice Mr SJ Mukhopadhyay, was not amused.

Summoning Mr P Hota, the MD of Geomin, into the well the judges asked why a formal contempt of court should not be issued against him or against each member of the Board. Mr Lodha said that "An apology cannot restore the dignity of the court you have damaged and destroyed.'

He further pointed out that the counsel had substantially covered the arguments before being removed midstream and not been told as much and warned Geomin against the consistent manner in which he was playing with the court.

The Odisha based company has challenged the state's decisions to allocate a 200 million tonne iron ore reserve at Khandadhar in the Sundergarh district for captive use of the South Korean steel major. The controversial project has been delayed by seven years because of sustained resistance from a section of the villagers to be displaced and forest land that they claimed dependence on.

POSCO has since redrawn its plans for an original annual 12 million tonne steel plant to fit in a smaller 8 million tonne plant. Geomin claims it was a prior applicant having beaten Posco's application for the iron ore deposit by 14 years.