Register FIRs against unauthorized iron ore exporters, SC tells CBI

Register FIRs against unauthorized iron ore exporters, SC tells CBI

The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to register an FIR against those exporters who sent iron ore shipments of over 50,000 tonnes overseas without valid permit from the Belekeri port, as pointed by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) in its report in 2012.

A three-judge bench, presided over by Justice A K Patnaik, asked the probe agency to refer the matter concerning exporters who sent abroad iron ore of less than 50,000 tonnes to the Karnataka government for taking action. The court’s order came in response to an application filed by the CBI.

The apex court had told the probe agency to carry out “thorough and comprehensive” investigation in the illegal export of iron ore to the tune of 50.79 lakh metric tonne from the Belekeri port, as per the recommendations of the CEC report, submitted on September 5 last year.

Additional Solicitor General A S Chandhiok, representing the probe agency, submitted that the CBI was required to take permission to register FIR in individual cases and wanted the court to refer certain cases to the Karnataka government for further action.

Allowing the plea, the bench directed the state government to take “necessary action” as recommended by the CEC and submit a compliance report. within four months.

In its brief order, the court also clarified that the restriction imposed under Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, which mandated the CBI to seek prior permission before questioning an officer of  joint secretary and above rank, would not come in the way of its probe.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for the NGO petitioner in the case, urged the court to do away with this requirement of seeking prior permission as the case was being monitored by the apex court.

The names of those exporters who will be investigated are not known, as the  CBI is learnt to have submitted the list in a sealed cover.

The apex court on September 7, last year, said, “We accept the report of the CEC. The CBI is directed to register the FIR and investigate the case relating to illegal extraction of 50.79 lakh metric tonnes of iron ore from the forest area of Karnataka between January 1, 2009, and May 31, 2010.”

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