The Madras High Court on Tuesday imposed a fine of Rs10,000 on the state government for not implementing its order to appoint U Sagayam, an IAS officer as a special commissioner to probe the mining irregularities in the state.
Giving a time frame of four days for the government to relieve Sagayam from the present post and appoint him as the special commissioner under the court direction, HC bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sathyanarayanan came heavily on the government for not relieving Sagayam from his present post. The court directed the government to provide him security to conduct the investigation.
Currently serving as the chairman of the Science City Project in Chennai, Sagayam was handpicked by HC last month to act as court-appointed legal commissioner to probe illegal mining scam worth several thousand crores. Sagayam known for his constant tussle with the government had been transferred for more than 24 times during his 23 years of service.
During his appointment to probe illegal mining, court had also warned the government against his frequent transfers. It was Sagayam who exposed Rs 16,000 crore granite mining scam in Madurai in 2012 when he was serving there as the district collector.
HC said the probe includes the impact of quarrying on farm lands given to SC/ST section of people and that the commission has to visit and inspect the mines and submit a report to the court. Sagayam was appointed to probe the matter based on a PIL filed by social activist Traffic Ramasamy seeking a CBI probe into mining contracts and leases granted by the government over a period of time.
After the HC appointment of Sagayam as the special commissioner, the state government had approached the Supreme Court with an appeal saying that HC must have consulted the government before appointing Sagayam. It claimed that the state had taken stringent action against illegal mining and canceled 88 mining leases and registered 36 cases against illegal mining companies besides stopping the export of granite. However, SC refused to entertain the appeal. Later, a review petition was also filed in the high court by the state government, which was also dismissed.
Responding to the HC order on Tuesday, DMK president M Karunanidhi urged the state government to allow Sagayam to probe the matter. He said the government should give up its hatred.
Poovulagin Nanbargal, an environment organisation in Tamil Nadu also welcomed the HC order dismissing state’s review petition against the Sagayam committee. It said the HC order has exposed the nexus between illegal miners and politicians in the state. “The government should allow Sagayam Committee to function,” the statement said.