CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court has asked the State government to take expedient steps for establishment of special courts to ensure speedy trial of offences involving illegal mining.
A single-judge bench of Justice SK Sahoo on Monday underlined the necessity of such courts, considering the importance of mines in Odisha, revenue generated from it, and the increasing number of crimes reported under the MMDR Act.
Justice Sahoo said, “This court expects the State government to take necessary effective steps in that regard at the earliest in consonance with the provision under section 30-B of the Mines & Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 for constitution of special courts for speedy trial of offences”.
The direction was given while adjudicating an anticipatory bail application filed by one Prasannajit Nayak in connection with a case involving theft of minor minerals. The case was registered under IPC and MMDR Act at the Jakhapura police station and was pending in the court of the Judicial Magistrate First Class.
In pursuance to an earlier order, the Advocate General had furnished a list of 545 illegal mining cases that were pending in different police stations across 30 districts. In Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts, 99, 195 and 251 illegal cases had been registered respectively.
The district judges had submitted reports which indicated 943 illegal mining cases were pending in subordinate courts. While stressing the need for special courts,
Justice Sahoo took into account the purpose of amendment made in the MMDR Act in 2015, particularly making stronger provisions for checking illegal mining and further fact that the penal provision had been made more stringent by prescribing higher penalties up to Rs 5 lakh per hectare and imprisonment up to five years.
The Advocate General had also made a positive statement before the court that the State government is not against the constitution of special courts under section 30-B of the MMDR Act, Justice Sahoo further said in his order.
He declined to grant anticipatory bail to the applicant taking into consideration his criminal proclivity and the nature of accusation against him and vacated the interim protection granted to him on February 2 and extended further on February 15.