Shocked to know that the Punjab government had first registered around 35 FIRs for illegal mining in Rupnagar district and later started the process to compound offences, resulting in release of miners' vehicles as well as mining material, the Punjab and Haryana high court has summoned the relevant file notings in which all such orders have been passed.
Pulling up the state government, the bench headed by justice Rajive Bhalla questioned the state counsel, "How have you recommended cancellation of FIRs? We want to see the original file notings as to which officer, secretary or minister ordered compounding of offences with ulterior motive."
The bench added, "We promise action will be taken against all officials, however mighty they are." The bench also came down heavily on the mining officer of Rupnagar district, stating, "You, as a mining officer, had not caught any of the offenders, and only villagers had caught illegal miners. And now you people are compounding the theft offences. Under which authority and law can you compound theft offences?"
Justice Bhalla directed the state counsel to bring in the court on Wednesday all relevant file notings in which orders for registration of FIRs have been made and also those in which cancellation of those FIRs have been ordered. The bench also directed the state counsel to inform the court about the exact number of FIRs registered till date and the number of FIRs cancelled.
The bench also observed that the state authorities were pressuring the petitioners to withdraw the petition.
The directions came on a petition filed by Hardeep Singh of Rupnagar and Sukhpal Singh of SAS Nagar. Appearing for the petitioners, advocate Mansur Ali had sought directions to immediately stop illegal mining, which was going on despite a court ban, under the nose of government authorities in connivance with mining department officials.