New Delhi: In a major setback to Karnataka`s minister-cum mining magnates-- Reddy brothers, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to lift its stay on all their mining operations in Andhra Pradesh.
Earlier on March 23, the apex court banned the mining activities in Andhra Pradesh and asked the Reddy brothers to "come clean" on their alleged illegal activities.
Despite stiff opposition from the Reddy brothers, a bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Deepak Verma also appointed a high-level committee headed by Survey of India (SI) to verify allegations of largescale encroachment by the duo-owned Obulapuram Mining Corporation.
The alleged encroachments includes certain reserve forest areas in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
"What is wrong in doing it? Let there be a survey. What is the problem? If you have objections about any particular official, we will exclude him," the Bench said while turning down the ministers` plea.
The apex court said the committee would include officials from the State forest, mines and revenue departments besides representatives of the Reddy brothers would be permitted to present their view to the panel. The panel should submit its report within two weeks, the bench said while staying all further mining activities.
The Bench also sought response from the brothers--G Janardhana Reddy, Tourism Minister and Karunakara Reddy, Revenue Minister, on the SLP filed by the Andhra Pradesh government challenging the February 26 state High Court order quashing the lease cancellation orders passed by the state.
The AP government had alleged that the OMC extended the area of mining by removing the pillars which formed the boundary of the area for which the lease was granted.
The state government had issued an order prohibiting mining after the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) recommended stoppage of mining by the company in the area.
The Reddy brothers, who own mining leases in an area spread over 136 hectares of land in Andhra Pradesh`s Anantapur district, are accused of encroaching reserve forest lands as per the findings of the CEC as also an inquiry by the State government.