Supreme Court may order CBI probe into Belekeri ore export

The Supreme Court on Thursday pulled up the Karnataka government for its failure to check large-scale illegal export of iron ore from Belekeri port in Karwar district.

A three-judge Bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam also indicated that it may direct CBI probe into the illegal export of 35 lakh metric tonnes of iron ore and eight lakh metric tonnes of seized mineral from the port. The Bench directed the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to devise ways to “segregate” the case relating to illegal export in a manner which could speed up the investigation leading to early “conviction” of those guilty within six months.

Senior counsel Shyam Divan, appearing for the CEC read out the contents of the April 27 report containing allegations as to how a huge quantity of illegally extracted iron ore was exported from the port between 2009 to 2010.

“If we accept your recommendations and direct CBI investigation, it will take months and years and tons of documents would be filed. Will it not be better to segregate the case to produce some result? Some investigations are already pending before the CBI. Can’t we catch hold some of those responsible? You must have some results,” Justice Alam said.

Senior advocate Raju Ramchandran, appearing for Karnataka government submitted that charge sheets have already been filed by the State police while the Prevention of Corruption Act was also invoked against the accused.

The court, however, was not impressed as it observed, “Your charge sheet is merely an eyewash. Your explanation does not inspire confidence. Can it happen without state machinery turning a blind eye? Can there be more blatant violation of the laws of the land? Just imagine the magnitude of the case. See the dare-devilry, even seized stocks have vanished,” the Bench, also comprising Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar said.

The court directed CEC to submit a supplementary report if the cases relating illegal export could be segregated in order to ensure speedy probe. The court posted the matter for September 7.

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