The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Centre on a plea challenging its decision not to grant extension to the Justice MB Shah panel inquiring into mining-related issues.

A bench headed by Justice AK Patnaik sought response from the government on an application filed by an NGO contending that either the Centre be asked to extend the tenure of the panel or another commission be formed under the chairpersonship of Justice Shah to inquire into all aspects of illegal mining and other mining-related issues in the country.

The panel was formed to inquire into “all aspects of illegal mining and other mining-related issues in the country, especially in the states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha, as a commission appointed by this court and to submit its reports to this court”, the plea said. Illegal mining: SC issues notice to Centre, denies extension to Justice Shah panel

The plea was moved by NGO Goa Foundation, S R Hiremath, founder President of Samaj Parivartana Samudaya (SPS) and Keshav Shori, director of the Development Initiative for Sustainable Human Advancement (Disha). The plea also sought a direction to the central government to place all reports of the Justice Shah Commission of Inquiry in the public domain. The government has “malafidely” wound up the panel on October 16, it said, adding its reports had exposed “illegal mining” and that had led to banning of extractions of minerals in Goa.

The extension has been denied to the panel beyond October 16 when it was examining the illegal mining in Chhattisgarh in accordance with its terms of reference, it said. “

The decision not to grant extension to the Justice Shah Commission, as was sought by the Commission, itself is clearly malafide since it had become clear that the work of the Commission was affecting the interest of the big corporates and mining barons as well as of the top politicians and ministers in the country. “

Hence decision to close Justice Shah Commission prior to completion of investigation of gross illegal mining activities in these states is malafide since it is feared that the Commission’s work, which is still to be completed in certain respects, will expose the collusion of government officials in the loot of public resources and the inability of the Ministry of Mines to control the situation,” the plea said.

“On the one hand, government keeps extending the term of useless Commission of Inquiries for decades together, but here a Commission that was doing good work and was submitting detailed actionable reports has been closed,” the petition said.
“Therefore, this court should direct the government to extend the term of the Justice Shah Commission of Inquiry or make the said Commission as a court-appointed Commission in order to enable them to complete their inquiry in accordance with its terms of reference and submit reports to the central government and to this court.”
The panel was given its first extension from July 17, 2012 to July 16, 2013.

Courtesy: ibnlive