The Meghalaya High Court while dealing with an illegal coal mining case has yesterday directed the Chief Secretary and DGP to file additional affidavits saying that both of them did not deal with instances of flagrant breach of subsisting orders indicated in the 13th interim report filed by Justice Katakey (Retired).

The Bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee, Justice H.S. Thangkhiew, and Justice W. Diengdoh said, “Affidavits have been filed by the Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police pursuant to the order dated May 15, 2023. However, such order referred to the 13th interim report filed by Justice Katakey (retired) and the innumerable instances of flagrant breach of subsisting orders indicated in such report. Neither the Chief Secretary nor the Director-General of Police has dealt with such aspect of the matter. … The instances referred to in Justice Katakey’s 13th interim report must be individually dealt with and both the Chief Secretary and the DGP will file further affidavits indicating measures taken to ensure that there is no breach of the subsisting orders in future.”

The Bench further directed that in the meantime, the State should also ensure that the previous coal is disposed of as per the original schedule as set by Justice Katakey.

AAG K. Khan and Government Advocate R. Colney appeared for the State while DSGI N. Mozika and Advocate A. Pradhan appeared for the Union.

In this case, the Court was monitoring the disposal of previously mined coal after the ban on rat-hole coal mining and transportation of coal by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in the year 2014. It also sought the deployment of ten companies of CAPFs to check illegal mining and transportation of coal across the State.

The High Court in view of the above facts noted, “Indeed, the affidavit filed by the DGP is more of what has been done after the horse has bolted. What the Court required was for the horse to be kept safe and to close the stable door. It does not appear that either the administration or the police has made any endeavour in such regard as the stable doors have been left wide open with both the administration and the police looking the other way.”

The Court observed that such further affidavits should be filed within four weeks and that the matter will appear in five weeks.

“Justice Katakey will keep on monitoring the situation and keep up the good work. A further ad hoc remuneration of Rs 5 lakh be immediately released to Justice Katakey”, ordered the Court.

Accordingly, the Court listed the matter for the next hearing on July 3, 2023.

Cause Title- In Re: (Suo motu): Illegal Mining of coal in the State of Meghalaya

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