SIT takes 8 months for probe in 2 districts
Despite repeatedly inviting wrath of the Punjab and Haryana high court, the Punjab Police's special investigating team (SIT) probing illegal mining has taken eight months for a probe in just two districts (Pathankot and Tarn Taran).chandigarh Updated: Jan 29, 2014 10:35 IST
Despite repeatedly inviting wrath of the Punjab and Haryana high court, the Punjab Police's special investigating team (SIT) probing illegal mining has taken eight months for a probe in just two districts (Pathankot and Tarn Taran). Now, it has sought four months' time from the high court to probe "a huge number of criminal cases" in 11 other districts.
The SIT headed by inspector general of police (IGP) Nirmal Singh Dhillon and including Rupnagar senior superintendent of police (SSP) Inder Mohan Singh and joint director, mining, Vishav Bandhu was constituted by the state government on May 14 last year. The SIT was assigned the task of probing the first information reports (FIRs) pertaining to the illegal excavation of minor minerals across the state.
The petition filed by Chandigarh resident Gurbir Singh Pannu, highlighting rampant mining across the state, came up for hearing before the division bench headed by justice Rajive Bhalla on Tuesday. It has now been adjourned for the next hearing to February 17.
The high court had in August last year pulled up the SIT and granted it six weeks to submit its final report, with emphasis on the nexus in illegal mining, but still the SIT, it seems, is moving at its own pace. The court was not satisfied with the SIT's report presented on August 8 last year, citing FIRs registered in around 2,500 cases since April 1, 2012. Thereafter, the SIT had in September submitted its interim report in a sealed cover.
However, the SIT has now informed the court that it still needs to visit the districts of Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Kapurthala, Patiala, Sangrur, Barnala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Nawanshahr, Khanna and Batala (the last two being police districts).
For the delay in its probe, the SIT has reasoned, "The matter continuously remained under the active consideration of this hon'ble court and the team could not get a considerable time at a stretch to complete the investigation..." It was also informed that the SIT members were performing multifarious duties.
The SIT members, after visiting Pathankot and Tarn Taran districts, have now submitted the statements of various interrogated persons in a sealed cover to the high court.
The petitioner had submitting that despite the ban imposed by the high court, illegal mining was continuing in Punjab without any check, causing a loss of around Rs 10,000 crore per year to the state exchequer. He had sought directions to put on auction all mining areas cleared for environmental impact in a transparent, time-bound manner so as to curb illegal mining in the state.