Apex court allows relieving of iron-ore e-auction body officer

Apex court allows relieving of iron-ore e-auction body officer

Apex court allows relieving of iron-ore e-auction body officer

The Supreme Court on Monday allowed a plea to relieve Bihar-cadre IAS officer H R Srinivasa from the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to monitor e-auction of iron ore extracted from the Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur districts of Karnataka.

A three-judge green bench presided over by Justice J S Khehar granted the request made by Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar appearing on behalf of the Bihar government.

Kumar contended that since Srinivasa was appointed to the committee for having held the post of director of Karnataka’s Mines and Geology. But after his repatriation to the parent cadre, Bihar government's work suffered in view of his presence being sought in Karnataka as convenor in the monitoring committee, added Kumar.

He also informed court that Maheshwar Rao has already taken over as director of Mines and Geology, and could be assigned the task so far being done by Srinivasa.

The bench, also consisting of Justices J Chelameswar and A K Sikri, found the demand “justified”, and rejected the objection by advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Samaj Parivartan Samudaya, on it.

The apex court had constituted the monitoring committee, consisting of Dipak Sarmah, the then additional principal chief conservator of forests, U V Singh, the then chief conservator of forests, and Srinivas, to deal with various issues related to the sale through e-auction of the existing stock of iron ore, its transportation, and account of its sale proceeds.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI)—a group representing the interests of mining-lease holders, including those from Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga—urged the court to direct Karnataka to grant statutory approval for category A and B mines in a time-bound manner.

Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for FIMI, contended that despite the apex court’s order for resumption of mining, out of the 72 mining leases, only 18 are currently in operation.

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