8 Jun 2023 6:35 AM GMT
In pursuance of the order directing it to find out the persons behind the setting up of illegal coke oven plants in Shailang Area of West Khasi Hills Districts, the police has told the Meghalaya High Court that the investigation has revealed that the operators are mostly based in Assam and raids have been conducted to arrest them.“That insofar as the actual owners/operators of the illegal...
In pursuance of the order directing it to find out the persons behind the setting up of illegal coke oven plants in Shailang Area of West Khasi Hills Districts, the police has told the Meghalaya High Court that the investigation has revealed that the operators are mostly based in Assam and raids have been conducted to arrest them.
“That insofar as the actual owners/operators of the illegal coke plants are concerned, the investigation from owners of the land has revealed that they are mostly based in Assam and have been running the illegal business in Meghalaya and several benami transactions have also come to light in the investigation for which request had already been made to the competent court to add section 53(1) of Benami Prohibition) Act, 2016 in the pending case,” DGP Dr. L.R. Bishnoi told the court.
The DGP further said that illegal coke plants were operating on the land belonging to clan kurSohbar and a notice under Section 91 CrPC was issued to the "managed/agent" of the clan. It was found that the land on which the illegal coke oven plant were operating belong to 32 persons, "all of whom were females and mostly aged women", according to the affidavit filed by the DGP.
Submitting that Section 41A CrPC notice were issued to them, the DGP said investigation revealed that the majority of the 28 persons are based in Assam and very few are in Meghalaya.
The court was further told that raids were conducted in Assam and Meghalaya to arrest these 28 persons but they have been found to be absconding from their available addresses and till date no arrests have been made. If the accused are not traced soon, appropriate action under Section 82 and 83 CrPC will be initiated, the police said.
In December 2022, 57 illegal coke oven plants were shut down in the Shallang area of West Khasi Hills District. An FIR was registered u/s 188/34 IPC read with Sec. 21(1) of the MMDR Act. Subsequently, the Forest and Environment Department requested to add sections 379 and 120B of IPC; section 3(1) r/w 21 of MMDR Act, 1957; Section 15 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and section 3 of Explosives Substance Act, 1908 in the FIR.
In May, the court had said that “despite repeated orders of this Court, the State has cared little to check the menace..." and directed the State“to indicate the persons behind the illegal coke plants that had been set up and the steps taken in accordance with law to bring them to book.”
The DGP has now told the court that to "completely quell the illegal extraction of transportation of coal" in the district, the Deputy Commissioner, West Khasi Hills has directed the authorities coke oven plants to temporarily suspend their operations "till their source coal audit is completed" by Justice (retd.) Katakey Committee which has been appointed by the high court.
Case Title: Shailendra Kumar Sharma v. State of Meghalaya & ors.
Click Here To Read/Download Affidavit