The Supreme Court today said it will hear on February 10 the issue raised by the Centre that reports of the Justice M B Shah Commission on illegal mining in Jharkhand and Odisha cannot be placed before the apex court without first tabling it in Parliament.
A three-judge forest bench headed by justice A K Patnaik said it will examine whether placing of report first before it would amount to breach of privilege.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, who is assisting the bench as amicus curiae in the matter, suggested that the petitioners plea for perusing the Committee report can be considered by it for making the report public.
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 Centre has also told the apex court that the tenure of the Justice Shah Commission, which is looking into illegal mining issue in the country, cannot be extended as it is "unwarranted".
It also refused for the time being to place reports of the commission on illegal mining in Jharkhand and Odisha 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 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 sought dismissal of the application pleading for extending 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 contended 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 have been substantially met by the Commission," it said.