The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Orissa High Court to decide, within 6 months, matters where status quo orders have been passed in connection with mining matters.

A vacation bench of Justices M.R. Shah and Aniruddha Bose got annoyed over the allegations of illegal mining of minerals carried out by some companies in the absence of forest clearance from authorities concerned. It said without obtaining forest clearance from the authorities, how could the companies continue to mine under the garb of the high court's status quo order?

The bench said: "Anything which has been excavated without the forest clearance is illegal... You cannot be permitted to continue with extraction of minerals without the forest clearance."

It said it is not in dispute that the petitioner is not having forest clearance at this stage and the pendency of application for forest clearance cannot be treated as granting of forest clearance to carry out mining.

"Under the guise of order of status quo, the petitioner who does not have clearance can't be allowed to carry out mining activity."

The top court was hearing an appeal by Odisha-based Balasore Alloys Ltd challenging the high court's order, which declined to entertain its plea seeking to continue with the status quo order, which favoured the company. The top court allowed the company to withdraw its plea.

Asking the Orissa High Court to decide and dispose of all pending matters, where status quo order is continuing since long and the mining activities have been continued under it, within a period of six months, the bench also directed its registry to communicate the order to the Chief Justice of the high court for necessary action.