The states should not fear if a matter is pending before the Supreme Court as it is not a “man-eating tiger”, the top court has said.
“We are not a tiger or something. We are not man-eating tigers. They should not have fear,” a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta observed.
The court’s observation came when senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for a private firm, argued that a petition filed against the company, alleging illegal mining in Andhra Pradesh, was aimed at pressurising the state government.
The counsel for Andhra Pradesh placed on record a recent order passed by the state government suspending mining operations by the Trimex Group.
Mr Rohatgi said this was not a case of illegal mining and the state has taken this decision as the apex court was hearing the matter.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner and former senior bureaucrat EAS Sarma, said the state has only ordered suspension of the licence, but they should cancel it and recover the money from the company.
“The petition has been filed to pressurise the state to take a call. There is no case at all to say that it is illegal. We have to challenge it (order passed by the state),” Mr Rohatgi said.
When he claimed that the state government’s order has made the “attempt” by the petitioner “successful”, the bench observed “a state government is not such helpless that one or two persons can coerce them.”
It posted the matter for further hearing on September 27.
On July 9, the apex court had sought the reply of the Centre, Andhra Pradesh and the firm on the petition seeking a court-monitored SIT or CBI probe into the alleged illegal mining being carried out by the company in Andhra Pradesh.
Mr Sarma, a former secretary to the union government, has alleged in his plea that the group was involved in illegal and unlawful activities, including mining and export of various minerals such as Monazite which is a prescribed substance as per the notifications issued under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962.
Claiming that such illegal mining has destroyed the environment and tree cover of the region, the plea has sought termination of the group’s mining licence for violating various laws and sought a probe into the alleged illegal mining in the area.
It has also demanded a direction to the authorities to recover from the company the allegedly illegally accumulated wealth through illegal mining and related activities and launching of prosecutions under sections of the 1957 Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act.
The money recovered should be used for the restoration of the environment, the plea has sought.