Cuttack, July 31: Orissa High Court is due to decide for over three months now on the necessity of a CBI probe on the multi-crore mining scam.
The alleged scam involving illegal mining and smuggling out of manganese from mines in Keonjhar region that had not been leased out rocked the Naveen Patnaik government forcing it to order an inquiry by the state vigilance in July 2009.
Subsequently, as many as six PIL had sought CBI probe, while another by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) on the mining scam between November 2009 and March 2011.
The two-judge bench of Chief Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice B.N. Mohapatra heard argument and closed hearing on April 18. A decision has since been due.
Adjudication of the PILs had centred round contentions directed against alleged inadequacies in infrastructure and limitations of the state vigilance as influential persons having connection with persons in the government were involved in the scam.
The Orissa government opposed a CBI probe claiming the state vigilance as fully competent with necessary logistics and manpower to conduct the investigation.
The state vigilance had been given a carte blanche by the state authorities and under such circumstances a direction for further investigation by the CBI at this stage is uncalled for. Moreover, a CBI probe is not necessary, as an inquiry into illegal mining in Orissa has already been conducted by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court.
The Orissa government had also cited appointment of a commission of inquiry by the Centre for probing into illegal mining across the country.
The Centre apparently made it clear that it was up to the high court to take a final decision on the issue.
“Considering the gravity of matter and loss sustained, if the high court so desires, any central agency can be called upon to probe as per the due procedure laid down, including the CBI. The Centre is willing to offer all necessary assistance in the matter,” the affidavit stated.
The CBI, on the other hand had in an affidavit, said: “We are ready to offer our services if the court recommends a probe by the agency into the alleged cases of illegal mining.”