Illegal Karnataka mining: SC tells panel to focus on convictions

August 23rd, 2012 - 11:49 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 23 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday asked its central empowered committee (CEC) on environment matters to focus on a limited issue in the illegal mining cases in Karnataka so as to achieve convictions.

The apex court’s forest bench of Justice Aftab Alam, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar asked amicus curiae Shyam Divan if it would not be a better option to focus on a limited issue if they were sure of conviction of people engaged in illegal mining, its transportation and exports.

The court said this when Divan, appearing for the CEC, urged the court to order a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the illegal mining of 35 lakh metric tonnes of iron ore in the state from November 2009 to February 2010.

It asked Divan to split the cases into definite cases where conviction was possible.

“We can give larger investigation to the CBI but let us have some results (by pursuing focused prosecution),” the court said.

“It (CBI probe) will suit only these people (illegal miners),” Justice Alam said.

Giving an idea of the magnitude of the illegal iron ore that was mined and transported, Divan told the court that it would have required 390,000 truck trips to carry it from the mines to a port.

“If the state had been discharging its responsibility…can you see the magnitude of the offence,” said Justice Alam.

“Could there be more blatant flouting of the law of the land,” he said.

Justice Alam said this when senior counsel Raju Ramachandran sought to defend the Karnataka government, asking the court to look into the root cause of illegal mining.

“The root of illegal mining has not been addressed,” Ramachandran told the court.

The court would next hear the case Sep 7.

When the court inquired how could CEC come to the quantity of 35 lakh metric tonnes of illegally mined ore, Divan said that former Lokayukta had undertaken the investigations wherein the record of exports with the customs at docks was not supported by any documents on the transportation of iron ore from mines.

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