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Maha minister, officer sent to jail

THE SUPREME Court on Wednesday sentenced Maharashtra transport minister Swarup Singh Naik and Ashok Khot, additional chief secretary (social development coordination, general administration department), to a month each in jail for "over-reaching orders of the court".

india Updated: May 11, 2006 14:35 IST

THE SUPREME Court on Wednesday sentenced Maharashtra transport minister Swarup Singh Naik and Ashok Khot, additional chief secretary (social development coordination, general administration department), to a month each in jail for "over-reaching orders of the court".

The court sentenced them to one-month's simple imprisonment after its notice was drawn (in a contempt petition) to the fact that the duo had, during their stint as minister of environment and forests and additional chief secretary (revenue and forests) respectively, "inserted notes in the official file with oblique motives".

These notes were inserted to facilitate grant of new licenses to saw, plywood and veneer mills within one-kilometre radius of reserve forests, despite a court order of October 30, 2002, banning it throughout the country.

"The contemnors deserve serious punishment. This will set an example for those who have the propensity of disregarding court orders because of their money power, social status or posts held," a three-judge bench, comprising Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapadia, said. On March 4, 1997, the SC had directed unlicensed saw, veneer and plywood mills in UP and Maharashtra closed.

The states were restrained from relaxing conditions to grant fresh permits. Even licensed mills had to under the court orders approach a court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) for renewal of their licenses.

First Published: May 11, 2006 14:35 IST