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Madhya Pradesh High Court imposes cost of Rs 10,000 on state govt for not filing compliance report within the stipulated time

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The Madhya Pradesh High Court has imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on the state government for not filing a compliance report of the High Court order, whereby Additional Collector of Katni was directed to finalise the pending proceeding within a period of one week regarding the release of the petitioner’s JCB.

On March 3, the Jabalpur Division Bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Sanjay Dwivedi disposed of the petition filed by Gyarasi Sahu, seeking direction to the state government to release his JCB vehicle, which was seized by the respondents as the same was found involved in illegal mining.

The Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the order passed by the Additional Collector, Katni was assailed before the Director Mining, who in turn, vide order dated December 30, 2019, set aside the order dated April 22, 2019 and remitted the matter to the said authority for further spot inspection and to decide the same on merits.

Although the application has been moved before the Collector by the petitioner saying that the direction issued by the Director, the Additional Collector will take time to complete the said proceeding and therefore, in the meantime, his seized vehicle shall be released and custody of the same be handed over to him.

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The Collector vide order dated January 19, 2021, rejected the application of release of vehicle saying that the matter since pending before the Additional Collector, Katni and during the course of enquiry the physical availability of the vehicle could be required, therefore, the application was rejected directing the Additional Collector, Katni to finally decide the case so that decision of release of vehicle could be taken.

After hearing the Counsel for the Petitioner and also the Respondents, the Court is of the view that the petition can be disposed of directing the Additional Collector, Katni to take final decision in the pending proceeding within a period of one week from the date of submitting the copy of the order.

Later in July, the petitioner again approached the High Court, alleging that despite the order of the High Court dated March 31, 2021, the Additional Collector, Katni has not taken any decision on the prayer of the petitioner for release of the vehicle.

On August 2, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Vijay Kumar Shukla directed the state government to file compliance reports of the order dated March 31, 2021 positively by August 9, 2021.

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On Monday, Ashish Anand Barnard, Deputy Advocate General, appearing on behalf of the state, prayed for last opportunity of a week to file counter affidavit and report compliance of the order dated March 31, 2021, whereby the Court had granted only a week’s time to the Additional Collector, Katni to decide the matter.

The Deputy Advocate General further submitted that initially, the Additional Collector could not do so in the month of April because of Covid-19. But there is no explanation for the subsequent period, specially for the period after the matter was first listed on July 23, 2021 and thereafter on July 27, 2021 and August 2, 2021.

The High Court, while considering the submission, ordered “We, however, grant one last opportunity of seven days to the respondents on payment of the cost of Rs 10,000, to be deposited with the Legal Services Authority to file the counter affidavit and produce the compliance report of the order dated March 31, 2021 on the next date, failing which the Additional Collector, Katni shall appear personally. List the matter on August 16, 2021.”

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