Now, SIT to re-probe iron ore export scam cases closed by CBI

Now, SIT to re-probe iron ore export scam cases closed by CBI

Faced with criticism that it was not serious in pursuing illegal mining cases, the State Cabinet on Wednesday decided to hand over four cases pertaining to illegal export of iron ore to the Special Investigation Team (SIT).

Briefing reporters after the Cabinet meeting, Law Minister T B Jayachandra said the CBI had recently filed a closure report on illegal export of iron ore from four ports - Karwar and New Mangalore ports in Karnataka and Panaji and Marmagoa ports in Goa stating that there was no prima facie evidence of any irregularities.

The Cabinet decided that it would order a second probe, this time by the SIT, expressing displeasure at the outcome of the CBI probe four years after it began. Wednesday's decision is based on the recommendation of a Cabinet sub-committee headed by Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H K Patil, the minister said.
"We do not believe there is no prima facie evidence. There is feeling that the CBI was under pressure to close the cases," he added.

Several leaders of both the BJP and the Congress are reportedly involved in illegal export of iron ore from these ports. The illegal exports are said to have taken place during the tenure of the BJP government in the state. The CBI probe was ordered following a direction by the Supreme Court in 2013. The then Lokayukta Justice N Santhosh Hegde had in his report stated that more than 70 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of iron ore was mined and exported illegally from Ballari district alone.

'Attach properties'

The State Cabinet also decided to attach properties of companies and individuals against whom the SIT has already filed charge sheets for indulging in illegal mining which has caused huge losses to the state exchequer. Jayachandra said provision of the Criminal Law Ordinance, 1944 will be invoked to attach the properties to recover the losses.
According to sources, the state government is likely to attach properties of hundreds of companies and individuals. Value of the properties to be attached is estimated at Rs 12,000 crore.

Officials of various departments, including Home, Mines and Geology, DPAR and Forest will be asked to file applications before the jurisdictional sessions magistrate courts to seize the properties. The seizures can happen only after obtaining the court permission, the sources added.

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