The high court of Bombay at Goa recently directed the state government and police to file an FIR against persons responsible for illegal mining, including the lessees, within six weeks.
The order came on a criminal petition filed by RTI activist Kashinath Shetye on the basis of the Shah commission inquiry report that pegged state loss arising from illegal mining in Goa at 35,000 crore. Even as the state government showed its reluctance to launch criminal prosecution against those involved in illegal mining, the court has set the law in motion.
Shetye had approached the court after police declined to register the FIR. In his complaint to the police, Shetye alleged that criminal prosecution is required to be launched against the 151 persons named in the complaint and others as mentioned in the Shah commission report. Those named in the complaint include former ministers, bureaucrats and corporates.
Shetye in his complaint filed in September 2012 had named former chief ministers Pratapsingh Rane and Digambar Kamat who held the mines portfolio during the period under investigation.
Disposing the plea, a division bench comprising chief justice Mohit S Shah and justice R P Sondurbaldota observed, "We dispose of this petition with direction to respondents to file FIR in respect of the offences alleged to have been committed by the persons responsible for illegal mining in the state of Goa, including the lessees of the mines and all those who permitted such illegal mining of iron ore and manganese ore, in contravention of the relevant statutory provisions. The FIR to be filed within a period of six weeks."
During the hearing of the case state advocate general A N S Nadkarni said that state authorities are ready to file an FIR after taking necessary care that all relevant materials are given in the FIR, including the Shah commission report.
While submitting that the Shah commission report is under challenge before the Supreme Court, Nadkarni stated that the respondent authorities want to ensure that in case the challenge to the report succeeds, the FIR would not fall only on that ground.
The Shah commission report that was tabled in Parliament in September 2012 had pegged the loss arising from illegal mining to 35,000. It had also indicted several politicians, including former chief minister Digambar Kamat and others.
Following the report, the state government had temporarily halted mining operations in the state. Later the Supreme Court had also banned mining in the state. There have been no mining operations in the state since September 2012. [TOI]