Updated: October 9, 2014 2:43:28 am
Turning the heat on derelict officials of the Haryana government, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would prosecute all erring officials without waiting for any more reports on illegal mining and proliferation of stone-crushing units in the Aravali hills.
Anguished over the laxity of the state administration in checking the illegal activities in the ecological zone that protects the entire NCR, particularly Gurgaon and Faridabad, the Green Bench headed by Justice J S Khehar observed that the time has come to hand out punishment to guilty officials since even prolonged monitoring has failed to stop the illegalities.
“We don’t want to monitor the case any longer. We now want to take action. Officers under whose jurisdiction illegal mining was going on must face action,” the bench also comprising Justices J Chelameswar and A K Sikri said.
It asked the government to furnish within four weeks the complete list of officials, who were duty-bound to curb illegal mining and stone crushing in terms of the Supreme Court directive in 2002, so that they could be prosecuted for dereliction of duty, preferably under Section 217 (public servant disobeying direction of law) of the IPC.
NGO Bandhua Mukti Morcha had revived its PIL, complaining about the absolute breach of court orders to protect Aravalis.
The bench adopted the stern view after it went though a report submitted by the court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC), which placed on record various details along with photographs showing the status of flourishing illegal mining activity in Mewat, Bhiwani and Mahendergarh districts, causing huge damage to the environment and ecology of the area.
“Let us change the strategy a little bit. Let the officers face prosecution and go to jail. These (CEC reports) show that all and sundry are plundering the country. We want to get out of it (mere monitoring) and take actions now,” the bench said.
The court asked senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the NGO petitioner, to assist in identifying the areas where such illegalities persisted and also officials for the purpose of their prosecution.
Gonsalves said satellite imagery of 28 villages in Haryana had showed that about 287 hectares had been brought under stone quarrying in violation of the court order. This clandestine activity was allegedly being carried out in and near Shikarpur, Chila, Nangli, Mubarakpur, Mahu-Tigaon, Nangal, Bai, Khanpur and Jhindrawat.
The state government sought to defend itself, saying 1,000 policemen were deployed for the purpose, eight FIRs lodged till date, 1,500 vehicles impounded and around Rs 39 lakh penalty imposed on violators so far in 2014. The bench remained unimpressed, questioning if violations had already come to light in view of the penalty orders, why no government official was prosecuted for dereliction of duty.
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