The Karnataka High Court on Friday upheld the state's ban on iron ore export, a decision taken by the BJP government to check illegal mining after it became a hot issue with the opposition targeting three ministers-cum-mining magnates, including the Reddy brothers.
A division bench said it found 'no infirmity' in the orders, which also banned issue of permits to transport the mineral for exports, noting that the action was for the sole aim and object of eradicating illegal activities related to mining, transportation and storage of iron ore.
The bench, comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice S Abdul Nazir upheld the July 26 and July 28 orders, which were challenged by about 40 mining firms.
The court directed the state government put in place within six months measures to regulate activituies connected with iron ore mining.
"We, therefore, hope and expect that the state government would expedite implementation of measures for preventing illegal mining, transportation and storage of iron ore. If the government fails to implement the measures within a reasonable time, the intention of the state government may itself be subject to suspicion", the bench noted.
Having taken such strong steps, the state government "cannot hereafter be heard to say that illegal mining related operations are still going on in Karnataka", it said.
In case of any lapse, "the blame must squarely rest on the shoulders of the state government", the court said.
The court also said unauthorised activities relating to mining should be brought to its logical conclusion at the earliest, so that those who have violated the law are "appropriately dealt with."
Illegal mining had created a storm in Karnataka politics, with the opposition targeting three ministers-cum-mining magnates -- B Janardhana Reddy, his brother Karunakara Reddy and their associate B Sreeramulu, charging them with carrying on illegal mining operations.
The opposition had also accused the three ministers of having a vice-like grip over the government.