SC stays Reddy brothers mining activities, says come clean
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Last Updated: Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 00:25
  
New Delhi: In a major setback to Karnataka's minister-cum mining magnates-- Reddy brothers, the Supreme Court today stayed all their mining operations in Andhra Pradesh and asked them 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 appointed a high-level committee headed by Survey of India (SI) to verify allegations of largescale encroachment by the duo-owned Obulapuram Mining Corporation.

"On your own, you should have offered yourself to inquiry and come clean," the bench snapped at senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi who alleged an orchestrated campaign in the media to discredit the Reddy brothers.

The alleged encroachments includes certain reserve forest areas in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Rohatgi, along with another senior counsel P P Rao, submitted that under Rule 33 of the Andhra Pradesh Mines Act, it was incumbent upon the State to order an inquiry by its own officials and there was no room for any inquiry by the Central agency.

"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 A P 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.

PTI


First Published: Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 00:25


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