Lokayukta court acquits D'gere MP's brother in mining case

'Charge sheet does not say transported excess ore was stolen'

A Lokayukta special court has acquitted G M Lingaraju, younger brother of former union minister and Davangere BJP Lok Sabha member G M Siddeshwara, in the case of illegal export of iron ore from the Belekeri port in Uttara Kannada district.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT), probing the illegal mining case, had filed the charge sheet against Gem Laboratories. Lingaraju is the managing director of the firm.

The court said, "The allegation in the charge sheet is about only transport of excess quantity of iron ore above the permitted quantity. Nowhere it is alleged in the charge sheet that the accused extracted or removed iron ore from any of the mines or from the state's possession. The charge sheet does not disclose that the alleged excess quantity is the iron ore stolen by the accused.''

The counsel for the accused contended that the offences under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act were not applicable to the case and that a special court did not have jurisdiction to try the offences and filed the discharge application. The special court judge Gopal allowed the application and discharged the accused.

The counsel submitted that the Supreme Court, while directing the state government to take necessary action in cases of illegal mining less than 50,000 metric tonnes (MT), had not said anything about registration of a criminal case.

SIT to approach HC

A senior official of the SIT told DH that an appeal would be filed before the High Court on the discharge of the accused.

"Several miners, who had been chargesheeted on similar grounds, have approached the court with a discharge application. An appeal will be filed in this case soon," he said.

The SIT's case was that Gem Laboratories transported and exported 1.15 lakh MT of iron ore to Belekeri port between January 2009 and May 2010. A total of MT had been exported without forest permit and mineral dispatch permit from the Mines and Geology Department, the SIT said in the charge sheet.

The SIT submitted an additional charge sheet, saying illegal transportation and export of iron ore in excess of the permit had caused a loss Rs 2.12 crore to the exchequer. The SIT had also included the offence of theft since the source of iron ore was not explained.

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