The Centre has told the Supreme Court that the tenure of the Justice Shah Commission, which is looking into the illegal mining issue in the country, cannot be extended as it is “unwarranted”.
The government has also refused, for the time being, to place reports of the commission on illegal mining in Jharkhand and Orissa before the apex court saying that they have to be first looked into by Parliament.
“It is respectfully submitted that as per the statutory scheme, the report submitted by the commission is to be placed before the Parliament along with the action taken report within a period of six months,” it said in its affidavit, adding, “the report is required to be placed before the Cabinet.”
The Centre said placing the reports before the court would “impinge” upon the jurisdiction of Parliament and pre-empt the statutory provisions. It said that it is for the Centre to take a decision on the extension and pleaded to dismiss the application seeking to extend the tenure of the commission.
“It is for the government to take a decision either in the matter of extension of the term of the commission or such other decision as it may deem fit to take on the report as and when it is submitted,” the affidavit said.
“It is submitted that the commission has already submitted six reports which contain materials and are being effectively and expeditiously examined by the central government to strengthen the legal framework and remedial measures to deal with illegal mining, trade and transportation in the country.
“Therefore, the ministry is of the view that further extension of the tenure of the commission is unwarranted and has taken the decision accordingly since the terms of reference of have been substantially met by the commission,” it said.
On January 13, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre to place the Shah Commission’s report on illegal mining in Orissa and Jharkhand before it by January 27. An environment bench headed by Justice AK Patnaik had also directed the Centre to provide a copy of the reports to Central Empowered Committee.
The bench had passed the order after advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioners, alleged that contents of the reports, published in newspapers, are shocking and the apex court should analyse them.
The bench had posted the case for hearing on January 27 on which it would also hear the plea of the petitioner seeking its direction to the Centre to extend the time period of Shah Commission of Inquiry by one year to enable the panel to complete its inquiry and submit reports on mining-related issues in accordance with its terms of reference.