16. The object of the Sand Act in Kerala is very clear from the preamble and the different provisions of the Act. Section 15(1) of the MMDR Act authorises State Governments to make Rules in respect of minor minerals, and the scope of these rules must be for regulating the grant of quarry leases, mining leases or other mineral concessions. This is not the subject dealt with under the Sand Act in Kerala. The object of the Sand Act in Kerala is to protect the biophysical environment system of river banks and river beds in the State of Kerala, and to regulate the extraction and removal of river sand in Kerala, and also the matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The scheme of the various provisions of the Kerala Sand Act also will show that the subject matter of legislation is in fact river sand collected or extracted from various rivers and river beds in Kerala, and the object is preservation and protection of biophysical environment system of river banks and river beds by such process. Much thought or probe is not required to find that sand, or even river sand, brought in Kerala from other States on licit or illicit export cannot be governed by the Sand Act in Kerala. When we examine the subject and object of legislation, and also the various provisions of the Sand Act in Kerala dealing with extraction, collection, removal and distribution of river sand collected from the rivers, and river banks or river beds in Kerala, we find that the object of the Sand Act is protection of the rivers and river banks of Kerala and also their bio-physical environmental system. So we find that in the present circumstances involving sand exported from the State of Karnataka, the Sand Act in Kerala can have no application, and the police and other authorities in Kerala cannot invoke the powers of seizure or prosecution or confiscation with respect to such Sand, under the provisions of the Sand Act in Kerala.

17. Now the question is whether prosecution and other proceedings are possible under the MMDR Act and the Rules framed thereunder. Let us see the definition of “mineral”. The learned counsel for the petitioners submitted that the MMDR Act can have application only to minerals, and cannot have any application to minor minerals which are separately dealt with under the Rules framed by the Government of Kerala as authorised under Section 15(1) of the MMDR Act. The learned counsel also submitted that under these Rules seizure of articles is not possible, and what is possible at the most is punishment for violation of the provisions of the Rules, and not for violation of the provisions of the MMDR Act. On the other hand the learned Government Pleader submitted that the definition of minerals is a wide definition including minor minerals, and that Section 3 of the MMDR Act defines minor minerals with a definite object. The learned Government Pleader submitted that such a separate definition is given under Clause (e) not because minor minerals are not included in the definition of minerals under Clause (a). Clause (a) of Section 3 of the MMDR Act defines minerals to include all minerals except mineral oils. Clause (e) of Section 3 defines minor minerals, to mean building stones, gravel, ordinary clay, ordinary sand other than sand used for prescribed purposes, and any other mineral which the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare to be a minor mineral. The argument advanced by the learned counsel for the petitioners is to the effect that when there is a separate definition of minor minerals under Clause (e), the definition of minerals in Clause (a) cannot include minor minerals. On an examination of the different definitions and also the application of different provisions including Section 15 which authorises the State Governments to make rules for regulating the grant of quarry leases, mining leases or mineral concessions in respect of minor minerals, we find that the definition of minerals under Clause (a) of Section 3 of the MMDR Act is a very wide definition covering minor minerals also. The answer to the question raised by the learned counsel for the petitioners is contained in the scheme of the provisions of the Act. One may ask why minor mineral is separately defined under the law, if it is included in the definition of minerals. We find that it is with a specific object the parliament defined minerals generally and minor minerals specifically. The scheme of the provisions of the MMDR Act is that exclusive powers are given to the Centre to deal with minerals other than minor minerals, but under Section 15, State Governments are authorised to make Rules with respect to minor minerals alone. Even as regards minor minerals the scope of the Rules must be for regulating the grant of quarry leases, mining leases and other mineral concessions in respect of minor minerals. The matters on which the State Governments can make rules for regulating the grant of such leases or concessions are enumerated in Clauses (a) to (o) of sub Section IA of Section 15. When the application of law is divided as regards the subject matter categorywise, it is imperative that the subject matter within the powers of the centre and the subject matter within the powers of the States must be separately dealt with. This is the only reason why the MMDR Act defines minerals generally and minor minerals specifically. The definition of minerals is an inclusive definition covering all sorts of minerals except mineral oils defined under Clause (b). Clause (e) contains a specific definition of minor minerals, only because such a definition is necessary when legislative powers by way of rule making are given to the States under Section 15 in respect of minor minerals. Thus we find that minor minerals, though defined separately under Clause (e) of Section 3 of the MMDR Act are included under the definition of minerals under Clause (a) of Section 3.

18. Now let us examine whether the MMDR Rules in Kerala are self contained, to deal with all sorts of transactions and situations in respect of minor minerals including sand. Sub section 1A of Section 4 of the MMDR Act provides that no person shall transport or store or cause to be transported or stored any mineral otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of the Act, and the Rules made thereunder. Thus the Sub section contains a definite prohibition regarding possession or transport of minerals, otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of the MMDR Act and the Rules framed thereunder. Now let us examine whether violation of this provision is punishable under the MMDR Kerala Rules, or whether the said Rules will empower the police authorities and other authorities in Kerala to seize and deal with minerals possessed or transported in violation of sub Section 1A of Section 4 of the MMDR Act. In exercise of the powers under Section 15 (1) of the MMDR Act, the Government of Kerala framed the Kerala Minor Mineral Concession Rules 1967. These Rules are meant for regulating the extraction of minor minerals in the State of Kerala. These Rules provide for grant of quarrying permits, quarrying leases, and also the regulation of the minor minerals extracted under such leases and licences. Rule 58 deals with penalty for violation of the Rules, and Sub rule 3 thereof deals with seizure of minor minerals collected or transported or possessed in violation of the Rules, and also the seizure of the tools, vehicles etc. used for such violation. Sub Rule 4 of Rule 58 deals with seizure of minor minerals along with vehicle, in the case of illegal transport of minor minerals without any valid permit issued by the competent authority. Sub Rule (1) of Rule 58 provides for punishment of imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, for contravention of any provision of the Rules. On an examination of Rule 58 dealing with different aspects including seizure of materials and also punishment for contravention of Rules, we find that what is dealt with under Rule 58 is not in fact a situation of violation of Sub Section 1A of Section 4 of the MMDR Act. The Kerala Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1967 were in force in Kerala when the vehicles of the petitioners with full load of sand were seized by the police. But now what is in force in Kerala is the Kerala Minor Mineral Concession Rules 2015 framed by the Government of Kerala in exercise of the powers under Section 15 (1) of the MMDR Act, and in supersession of the Kerala Minor Mineral Concession Rules 1967. The 2015 Kerala Rules deal with certain situations not dealt with originally by the 1967 Rules. However, violation of Sub Section 1A of Section 4 of the MMDR Act is not seen covered by these Rules also. The punishment provided under Rule 108 of the 2015 Kerala Rules is only for the contravention of any provision of the Rules, and not for violation of any provision of the MMDR Act. Illicit import of sand from Karnataka and illicit transport of such sand within Kerala is not simply violation of the 2015 Kerala Rules. It is definitely a violation of Sub Section 1A of Section 4 of the MMDR Act. The subject matter dealt with under the Kerala Minor Mineral Concession Rules 2015, or even under the 1967 Rules, is grant and regulation of quarrying leases, mining leases or quarrying permits, and also the regulation of removal of minor minerals extracted or collected under such quarrying leases and licences, within the State of Kerala. These Rules cannot have application to minerals and minor minerals brought in Kerala from other States, or illicitly imported to State of Kerala, in violation of the provisions of any law in force in the other States. Rule 108 of the 2015 Kerala Rules, or even Rule 58 of the 1967 Kerala Minor Mineral Concession Rules, will not deal with a situation of illicit import of minerals or minor minerals from other States, or illicit transport of minerals or minor minerals in the State of Kerala. The penalty provisions, and also the provisions for seizure of articles, contained in the Rules can be applied only in the situations of violation of the Rules, and not violation of the provisions of the MMDR Act. But now there is a change in the legal position, as contained in the Kerala Minerals (Provisions for illegal mining, storage and transportation) Rules 2015. These are the Rules framed by the Government of Kerala in exercise of the powers under Sub Section (1) of Section 23 C of the MMDR Act. Section 23 C of the MMDR Act authorises State Governments to make Rules for preventing illegal mining, transportation and storage of minerals, and for the purposes connected therewith. Thus illicit transportation of minerals including minor minerals will have to be dealt with under the 2015 Kerala Rules framed by the State Government under Section 23 C of the MMDR Act. The Rules framed by the Government of Kerala under Section 23C of the MMDR Act have already come into force in the State of Kerala. Rule 29 of these Rules provides that whoever contravenes the provisions of these Rules shall be punishable with the penalty provided for in sub Section 2 of Section 21 of the MMDR Act. Sub Rule 3 of Rule 3 of these Rules made under Section 23 C of the MMDR Act provides that no person shall transport or cause to be transported any mineral or mineral products by any carrier without having a valid mineral transit pass under these Rules. In this case the petitioners did not have any permit or pass justifying import of sand from Karnataka or justifying transportation of such sand within the State of Kerala. The police seized the sand and the vehicles when the petitioners failed to produce any pass or permit as prescribed under the law. Of course, it is true that the above Rules were made in 2015 as authorised under Section 23C of the MMDR Act, but the vehicles and the sand in this case were seized long back in February 2012. Still the position is covered by the MMDR Act itself.

19. Now, after the coming into force of the provisions of the Rules made by the Government of Kerala under Section 23C of the MMDR Act, identical situations can be dealt with under these Rules, and the provisions of the MMDR Act dealing with seizure, prosecution or punishment etc. will have to be followed in the process. In the present circumstances we find that there is not much difficulty to deal with identical situations because illegal or illicit transport of any mineral, without any valid pass or licence as prescribed under Sub rule 3 of Rule 3 of the 2015 Rules made under Section 23 C of the MMDR Act will have the consequences of seizure, prosecution and confiscation under the MMDR Act in view of Rule 29 of the said Rules.

20. Illicit import of sand from other states, or illicit transport of such sand within the State of Kerala was not in fact covered by the Kerala Rules of 1967 at the relevant time. But at the same time the alleged act is a clear violation of Sub section 1A of Section 4 of the MMDR Act. When such an act of offence is committed, and if it is punishable under the Principal Act, or if such a situation is not covered by the Rules made by the Government of Kerala, such act of offence will have to be dealt with under the Principal Act. The scope of the Rules framed by the Government under Section 15(1) of the MMDR Act will not go beyond the object of those Rules specified under Section 15(1A). Illicit import of sand from other states and illicit transportation or possession of such sand within the State of Kerala is not in fact the subject matter dealt with under the MMDR Kerala Rules of 1967 or 2015.