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Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday claimed that the Supreme Court order in the mining case has vindicated his stand that no action could be taken against those named in the Justice M B Shah Commission of inquiry without proper investigation by the police.
"The court has said that unless the parties are heard, it cannot proceed against them and therefore cannot direct the government to prosecute anyone," Parrikar told PTI reacting to the judgement which has allowed mining in the state, though with several restrictions.
The chief minister said that the state government has already appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT), which has begun probing the illegal mining scam.
Admitting that the strength of the SIT needs to be augmented, Parrikar said that the state Home Ministry might sanction seven more officers to investigate the reported scam.
He claimed that the court order vindicates his stand that action cannot be taken unless enough evidence is gathered against the accused through proper inquiry process.
"This is what I have been saying for last two years," the chief minister said.
While the SIT has already arrested former Director of Mines and Geology, Arvind Lolienkar, for his alleged involvement in the mining scam, questions were raised by social activists and environmentalists over their delay to arrest the then chief minister Digambar Kamat and the mine owners, named in the Commission report.
The SC in its order has said that Section 8B of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 provides that if a person is likely to be prejudicially affected by the inquiry, the Commission shall give to that person a reasonable opportunity of being heard and to produce evidence in his defence.
Goa government had taken a stand before the court that "no action will be taken against the mining lessees only on the basis of the findings in the report of the Justice Shah Commission without making its own assessment of facts and without first giving the mining lessees the opportunity of hearing and the opportunity to produce evidence in their defence."
Upholding the state government stand, the court had said that it cannot direct prosecution of the mining lessees on the basis of the findings in the report of the Justice Shah Commission, if they have not been given the opportunity of being heard and to produce evidence in their defence and not allowed the right to cross-examine and the right to be represented by a legal practitioner before the Commission.