SC to decide on mining scam probe next week

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: May 5 2012, 06:16am hrs
The Supreme Court on Friday asked former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa and the country's third-largest steel producer, JSW Steel, to file documents to prove their innocence in the Karnataka mining scam.

The court said it will pass an order next week on the Central Empowered Committee's (CEC) recommendations, seeking a CBI probe into the alleged massive illegal mining activities in Karnataka and the roles of Yeddyurappa and two companies JSW Steel and Adani Enterprises in the scandal.

CEC had also recommended that CBI should look into linkages between the two donations worth R10 crore during March 2010 made by South West Mining, a Jindal group company, to Prerana Education Society set up by the close relatives of Yeddyurappa, and alleged receipt of illegal mineral ore by JSW Steel and the alleged favours shown to it in respect of Mysore Minerals (MML).

A three-judge forest Bench, headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia, asked Yeddyurappa and the Jindal group company to submit all the documents by Saturday relating to similar cases pending before lower courts in the state.

"The court has found prima facie substance in the report and documents submitted to it," the Bench observed, adding that it can not shut its eyes. Besides, the apex court said that the documents before it clearly point to the violations of the Karnataka Land Acquisition Act.

However, it said that it would hear the allegations against Adanis on export of illegally-mined ore through its Belekeri port on a later date. Yeddyurappa's senior counsel V Giri, opposed such probe, saying that a case against the former chief minister on similar charges are pending before a lower court in Karnataka. Besides, an appeal on the similar charges against Yeddyurappa is pending before the apex court.

While the CEC in its report submitted to the Supreme Court on March 28 had recommended investigation "in public interest" into a case involving two real estate firms owned by Yeddyurappa's family members for alleged receipt of money in grant mining lease, it had on April 20 suggested probe by CBI against Yeddyurappa and his kin for alleged irregularities in denotification of land and donations made to an educational trust belonging to them from the Jindal company.

Even the CEC on April 27 had recommended "in-depth investigation into the illegal export of iron ore from Belekeri port in the state and formation of inter-departmental team of officers on full-time basis" and for follow-up action, particularly in regard to the illegal iron ore exported from Krishnapatnam and Chennai ports.

Adani Enterprises, a flagship firm of the Gujarat-based Adani Group, is one of the four port operators functioning out of the port on the west coast in Karnataka. The panel suspects that the value of illegally exported ore from Belekeri port could exceed R2,500 crore. The CEC, quoting the Lokayukta report, said from November 2009 to March 2011, around 83 lakh tonne of iron ore worth R2,503 crore were exported illegally from the Belekeri port alone. Even the final Lok Ayukta report, submitted to Karnataka government on July 27, 2011, had mentioned about the irregularities conducted by Adani, Shree Mallikarjun Shipping, Salgaoncar Mining Industries and Rajmahal Silks.