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Meghalaya HC directs Assam to probe coal laundering

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The Meghalaya High Court has directed the State of Assam to file an affidavit after conducting a preliminary inquiry as to whether there may be any basis to the petitioners’ allegations pertaining to perceived illegal mining of coal in the State.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and W. Diengdoh heard the two connected Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed alleging that the illegally mined coal in Meghalaya is smuggled out – in both the cases to Assam – and re-routed to the State, sometimes for ultimate export to Bangladesh, by obtaining forged and fabricated papers in Assam.

Indeed, it was submitted by the State that a magisterial inquiry was conducted into the facts pertaining to the second matter, whereupon it was discovered that proper documents evidencing payment of GST on the coal had been produced. The State submitted that upon GST payment receipt being presented, the State has no obligation to inquire any further as to the legitimacy of the transportation.

The petitioners, however, insist that there was veritable coal laundering by the private respondent in the first matter with the active connivance of persons in the State. Though no credible evidence has thus far surfaced, the petitioners allege that the private respondent in the first matter launders coal by furnishing fabricated documents in support of the material as the illegally mined coal in this State is returned to the State with such documents.  

It is because of the nature of the allegations and the possible commission of the act in the State of Assam that special notice has been issued to the State of Assam. The State of Assam is represented through senior government Counsel.  

It is submitted on behalf of the State of Assam that some cases have been registered regarding illegal transportation of coal.

“The State of Assam is requested to file an affidavit after conducting a preliminary inquiry as to whether there may be any basis to the petitioners’ allegations as recorded above. In particular, the State of Assam should render assistance as to the sanctity of a GST payment receipt being produced,” the Court directed.

The matter is listed on November 14, 2022 for further hearing.

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