BHUBANESWAR: While the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the state government to recover full compensation in the illegal mining scam, it was not inclined to pass any direction for CBI inquiry into it as recommended by the M B Shah Commission.
The apex court directed the state government to recover 100 per cent compensation from the illegal miner for excess mining, as recommended by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC). The amount due from the mining lease holders should be deposited by them on or before December 31, 2017, the SC said.
A division bench of the apex court said in its order, "Since the recommendations made by the CEC in this regard is not totally unreasonable, we accept that the compensations should be payable from 2000-01 onwards at 100 per cent of the price of the minerals as rationalised by the CEC."
Although the M B Shah Commission had strongly favoured a CBI probe, the SC said it did not propose to direct an investigation by CBI, as the immediate concern was to ensure that illegal mining operations were not repeated in any other part of the country.
However, the Supreme Court said, there should be no compromise in the quantum of compensation. "If there has been illegal mining, the defaulting lessee must bear the consequences of the illegality and not benefit by pocketing 70 percent of the illegally mined ore," the order said.
The apex court was critical in its observation stating that there was no reason why the state should forego what is its due from the exploitation of a natural resource and "on the contrary be a party in filling the coffers of defaulting lessees in an ill-gotten manner."
The apex court was of the view that an expert committee should set up under the guidance of a retired judge of the SC to identify the lapses occurred over the years enabling rampant illegal mining in Odisha and also for recommending measures to prevent this from happening again.
The Shah Commission had recommended recovery of more than Rs 59,000 crore as compensatory dues from the miners for excess mining while the CEC calculated it over Rs 61,000 crore.
Based on the recommendations given by the Justice Shah Commission, the state government had issued notices to mining companies which the miners had challenged in the court of law.
The apex court has asked the Odisha chief secretary to file an affidavit within a period of six weeks, or before September 30
It also directed the Centre to have a fresh look at the National Mineral Policy, 2008 which was almost a decade old, particularly with regard to conservation and mineral development. The exercise should be completed by December 31, 2017, the two-judge bench said.
In April 2014, NGO Common Cause had filed a petition in the SC seeking action against leases indicted by the Shah Commission on illegal mining.