SRINAGAR: Speaker of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly today ordered an inquiry into issuance of a mining lease to a person who is not a permanent resident of the state, despite his direction to keep the matter in abeyance, and said the House and the Chair have been "insulted".
Questioning how the decision was taken when the matter was being examined by a House committee, the Speaker sought action against erring officials after members cutting across party lines expressed their unhappiness over the issue.
Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Prakash Ganga said that the matter had not come to his notice and assured the House that it will be examined.
As soon as the house assembled for the day's proceedings, the issue was raised by CPI(M) MLA Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami who said "this is an insult of this House and insult of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution".
He was supported on the issue by members from all political parties including PDP and BJP.
Speaker Kavinder Gupta said, "My office had issued an order to the Commissioner- Secretary, Industries and Commerce Department, regarding the decision to keep SRO 105 (related to mining) in abeyance.
"It is unfortunate that this chair (of the Speaker) has been insulted and this House has been insulted."
The MLAs were protesting against issuance of a lease to Mohinder Pal Singh, a resident of Chandigarh, by the department.
The Speaker also directed an inquiry into how the order of sanctioning lease came to be passed as the High Court had stayed granting of mining leases while the house committee was examining the SRO 105.
"Strict action should be taken against these officials so that no one dares to repeat such a thing," he added.
Tarigami said, "For the first time there was a consensus on an issue in this house and it was regarding SRO 105, which was put in abeyance and a house committee formed to look into its provisions."
He said even as the House Committee was examining the matter, the officials of the state government had issued lease to Singh for mining over 40 hectare in Ravi belt of Kathua district.
"This is an insult of this House and insult of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. We will not allow Jammu and Kashmir to be put on sale," the communist leader said.
Ganga tried to make a statement on the issue but was shouted down by the opposition members, who demanded his resignation.
The minister was later allowed to make a statement following the intervention of the Speaker.
"I assure this house that this lease is not in my notice.
We will examine this and there will be action on it as well," the minister said.
Revenue Minister Basharat Bukhari, however, said the officer who has issued the order should be placed under suspension with immediate effect.