Sterlite in a statement said the judge observed there was a difference between public perception and ground reality.
The Madurai Bench of the Madras high court has issued an interim stay on the government’s order halting Sterlite’s expansion plan.
The court on Wednesday heard the writ petition filed by Sterlite Copper, challenging the cancellation of land allotment by the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu for its copper-smelter expansion.
The company was planning to double its capacity with an additional investment of ~25 billion. It was during civil works at this phase that the residents of the area staged protests against the factory expansion.
The case was heard by Justice V Parthiban. senior advocate P S Raman appeared for on behalf of Sterlite Copper and Additional Advocate-General Chella Pandian appeared for the state.
While order copy was not available immediately, Sterlite in a statement said the judge observed there was a difference between public perception and ground reality.
The judge noted that only because some people were expressing concerns, the state cannot make decisions solely to appease them.
The judge said the court cannot be swayed by public perception and had to judge the case on facts alone.
The judge was also of the opinion that the balance of convenience lay in favour of Sterlite Copper and stated that this order to cancel the land allotment was a political one.
P Ramnath, chief executive officer, Stellite Copper, said, “We are happy that the court has only considered the facts in the case and granted a stay to the state’s order, which was purely made considering the people’s emotions.”
Earlier, the protest against Sterlite factory in Thoothukudi and the expansion plans has resulted in death of over 11 people, who participated in a demonstration in Thoothukudi.
In connection to the public protest, the SIPCOT had cancelled the land allotment for the expansion plan.
The government also issued an order directing the facility to be permanently shut down.
The company challenged this with the National Green Tribunal, New Delhi. An expert committee appointed by the tribunal has conducted public hearings in Thoothukudi and in Chennai last month.