Politicians, officials ignored granite loot: HC
The Madras High Court Bench here on Thursday dismissed an anticipatory bail application filed by six accused in a granite scam case after observing that the natural resource could not have been looted without the connivance of politicians and bureaucrats. The court also quoted an article written by former judge K. Chandru in The Hindu Tamil to substantiate its conclusion.
Rejecting the advance bail plea, Justice P.N. Prakash said: “I am not wee bit surprised at the political dispensation and bureaucracy closing their eyes, ears and mouths like Gandhiji’s monkey dolls, of course for wrong reasons, when, accentuated by greed, the petitioners were mining into water bodies and government lands using high voltage explosives and transporting them by huge trucks in broad daylight.”
He went on to state: “India has a hoary history of loot and plunder of its assets… Subterranean wealth has been the support for the well being and prosperity of the humans on the surface of this part of the planet… Our prosperity was an eyesore for invaders and marauders beginning from Alexander to East India Company… When everyone was looting us, we remained stoic and indifferent. This apathy continues even today, but for different reasons.”
According to petitioners’ counsel, the Madurai District Crime Branch police had registered a case against his clients S. Sankaranarayanan and P.K.M. Selvam, partners of Sri Iswariya Rock Exports and four of their employees on January 14 this year on charges of having illegally mined 70,819.44 cubic metres of coloured granite from government lands and a water body, adjacent to their leased site, between 2006 and 2011.
Assailing the prosecution case, counsel contended that 70,819 cubic metres of granite blocks equals 2.12 lakh tonnes which could not have been transported without using as many as 8,500 trucks at the rate of at least four trucks a day. Contending that it is impossible to transport such huge consignment without being detected by the revenue and police officials, he claimed that the entire police case was hogwash.
“This argument did sound attractive, but it cannot withstand the test of reason,” the judge said and referred to Mr. Chandru’s article which had cited several instances where mining barons had carried on with their activities under the protective umbrella of stay orders granted by the High Court. Pointing out that the court had even quashed many FIRs registered on charges of illegal quarrying between 2006 and 2012, Justice Prakash said: “In this long interregnum, even conscientious policemen suffered legal paralysis. Therefore, just because all the instrumentalities of the State were looking somewhere all along, it cannot be said that they should continue to be a Rip Van Winkle in the future also.”