SC stays Reddy brothers mining activities, says come clean

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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