Apex court refuses to stay fine on Jaypee

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 30 2012, 09:06am hrs
The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the R100-crore fine imposed on infrastructure major Jaiprakash Associates Ltd (JAL) for setting up a captive thermal power plant fraudulently without clearance. The Himachal Pradesh High Court on May 4 directed the company to dismantle its 60MW captive power plant in the state within three months, but had allowed its 1.75-million-tonne cement plant in Solan to stay.

While refusing to stay the payment of the first installment of the penalty, a bench headed by Justice AK Patnaik sought replies from the Centre through the environment ministry, the Himachal Pradesh government, the Central pollution Control Board and others.

It also posted the matter for further hearing on September 18.

Senior counsel Harish Salve and Mukul Rohtagi argued that the state electricity board had granted no objection certificate for the setting up of a 25-MW multi-fuel-based power plant for captive use in April 2006 and the same was later withdrawn in 2007.

According to Salve, the court had wrongly ordered dismantling of the power plant which was never put up. The third-largest cement producer in the country said that the HC wrongly applied the principle of polluter pays as the condition precedent for invoking it required that there must a finding that damage was caused to the environment from the actions of the party on whom such damages are sought to be recovered.

The HC while quashing the environmental clearance granted to the company's power plant had ordered setting up of a three-member special investigation team to see if state officials were involved in the irregularities. The SIT has been asked to identify whether any official, directly or indirectly, received undue benefits from JAL or its associates.

Directing the SIT to submit its report by December 31, the HC has asked it to recommend criminal or disciplinary action against erring officials.