The Supreme Court on Wednesday said Haryana government officials, who have failed in carrying out their duty of curbing the illegal mining in the Aravali ranges, should be punished.
The apex court's green bench consisting justices Jagdish Singh Khehar, J. Chelameswar and AK Sikri said this as it asked Haryana's additional advocate general Narendra Hooda to provide the names of the officers posted to keep an eye on mining activities and act against illegal mining in Aravali ranges.
The court direction to the state government came during the hearing of an PIL by NGO Bandhua Mukti Morcha drawing its attention to the unabated illegal mining in the Aravali ranges and official entrusted to curb it turning a blind eye.
Deprecating the inaction by the state government in making its officers, who are paid by the state, to account for dereliction of duties, Justice Khehar said: "Why should we be doing their work?"
As Hooda gave one alibi after another to justify the inaction by the state government, the court said: "It would not lead us anywhere. It is like going in the circles. (Situation on ground will not change) Unless we prosecute some officers and monitor it (action against them)."
Saying that it had to change its tactics, the court said: "We have to change our tactics. Those who are responsible to do it (curb illegal mining) are not doing their job. We must prosecute them. Send them to jail."
Making clear the course it was going to travel now, the court asked Hooda to make available the list of the officers posted in Aravali area with their duties and responsibilities, number of FIRs filed against illegal mining and chargesheets filed by police.
In the course of the hearing when Hooda sought to offer some defence of authorities not taking cognizance of the illegal mining, Justice Singh said, "Then we will have to let them do whatever they want. Let them destroy Haryana and Rajasthan."
Justice Chelameswar wanted to know what prevented the state government from invoking Section 217 of the Indian Penal Code that provide for proceeding against the officer disobeying direction of law.
As court confronted Hooda with the report of the empowered CEC on environmental matter saying that illegal mining was going on even in February 2014, Hooda said during that period illegal mining was taking place in Aravali ranges as most of police force and other security forces were deployed for the Lok Sabha polls.
Asking Haryana to provide the details of the officers and their duties, the court adjourned the matter for six weeks. The court will take up the matter again Dec 9, 2014.