The Uttarakhand High Court directed the respondents to disclose the name and particulars of the District Mines Officer, who was posted in the District Bageshwar at the relevant point of time when the illegal mining was undertaken, and detected. The Court further directed the respondents should also disclose as to what action has been taken against the concerned officer found to be in dereliction of his duty.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rakesh Thapliyal heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed bringing to light the illegal mining of khariya (shop stone), undertaken by the private respondent in Village Dapti, P.O. Dapti, Tehsil Kanda, District Bageshwar, Uttarakhand. The petitioner has placed on record photographs showing carrying out of illegal mining.
The Respondent had been granted a mining lease in respect of khariya stone. However, it appears to the Court from the counter-affidavit of respondent that a joint inspection was carried out on 11.02.2020, when it was found that illegal mining to the extent of 230 bags had been undertaken by the Private Respondent . On the basis of the said inspection, penalty of Rs.2,20,125/- was assessed, as payable by the private respondent .
However, it has not been clarified by the High Court whether the said penalty has been paid by the Private Respondent , or not.
An important issue which arises for consideration to the Court is that as to how, in broad daylight, Private Respondent could carry out the illegal mining in an area around beyond the leased area without the knowledge of the concerned District Mines Officer.
“It is obvious that the said illegal mining would have been undertaken with the knowledge and tacit consent of the said District Mines Officer.
In any event, the fact that such a large amount of illegal mining was undertaken reflects poorly on the conduct of the concerned District Mines Officer, and points to his dereliction of duty”, the Court remarked.
The High court therefore, directed the respondents authorities to file a further affidavit, firstly, stating whether the penalty imposed upon private respondent has been recovered, or not, and if not, the reason therefor. Secondly, the respondents shall disclose the name and particulars of the District Mines Officer, who was posted in the said district at the relevant point of time when the illegal mining was undertaken, and detected. The respondents should also disclose as to what action has been taken against the concerned officer found to be in dereliction of his duty.
The Bench has listed the matter on 18.04.2024 for further hearing.