SC questions K'tka HC for 'exceeding its jurisdiction'

SC sets aside imprisonment but upholds conviction Primary tabs

The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the Karnataka High Court for “exceeding its jurisdiction” by enhancing the sentence to a lease holder and others to a six-month imprisonment for illegally storing 5000 metric tonnes of iron ore.

“How can the high court enhance the sentence from fine to prison term on a revision petition filed by the convict? The high court could not have done so, when the state government has preferred not to challenge the sentence of merely fine imposed by the trial court,” a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said.

The top court granted relief to petitioner Prakash Jain and two others, by setting aside the prison term but maintaining their conviction and imposition of fine for the offence of theft and other offences under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act.

The petitioner led by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, questioned the high court's judgement of February 14, 2018.

Advocate V N Raghupathy, appearing for the state government, sought to justify the enhancement of sentence, saying a huge quantity of 5000 metric tonnes of illegal iron ores were found after raid on their premises at Hospete in Ballari.

But the court questioned him as to why the state did not file an appeal if it was aggrieved with the trial court's judgement of imposition of fine on the petitioners.

The trial court, in the case, had on June 6, 2008 imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 each for various offence on the petitioners after finding sufficient materials that a joint raid conducted by Geologist of Mines and Geology Department along with the officials of Police Department, Revenue Department and Environmental Department found illegal storage of 5,000 metric tonnes of iron ore.

This judgement was confirmed by the fast track court. However, the high court, on a revision petition, filed by the petitioners, enhanced the sentence by awarding the prison term of three months for theft and six months under the MMDR Act.

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