Apex court issues notice to govt on Shah panel closure

Apex court issues notice to govt on Shah panel closure

Apex court issues notice to govt on Shah panel closure

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Centre on a plea challenging its decision to wind up Justice M B Shah commission inquiring into illegal mining activities across several states.

A bench presided over by Justice A K Patnaik sought the response of the Centre on a plea made by advocate Prashant Bhushan on behalf of a group of NGOs. The court gave two weeks to the Centre to respond.

The Union government, which set up the Justice M B Shah Commission for inquiry into illegal mining of iron ore and manganese on November 22, 2010, has granted extension to it from time to time.

But before the commission could probe alleged illegal mining in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, the Centre decided not to extend its term from October 16, he said.

The commission submitted various interim reports with regard to mining activities in Karnataka. Its latest report on Goa mining forced the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in September to suspend 139 environment clearances granted for 182 mining leases there, the plea claimed.

Had the commission not submitted its report, illegal mining to the extent of Rs 35,000 crore over the last six years and questionable validity of all mining leases operating in the state of Goa since 1987 on the basis of “deemed extension” could not have been brought into light, the application contended.

In its plea, petitioners urged the court to direct the Centre to grant one year extension to Justice Shah Commission or direct Justice Shah to inquire into all aspects of illegal mining and other mining related issues in Jharkhand and Odisha and put them in public domain.

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