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Pampa Sand Mining Case: Kerala High Court Sets Aside Vigilance Probe

Hannah M Varghese
26 April 2022 4:15 PM GMT
Pampa Sand Mining Case: Kerala High Court Sets Aside Vigilance Probe
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The Kerala High Court has set aside the vigilance probe which was ordered into the alleged illegal mining of sand accumulated along the banks of river Pampa.In August 2020, the Vigilance Special Court in Thiruvananthapuram had ordered a Vigilance inquiry into the charges of corruption based on a petition filed by Senior Congress Leader Ramesh Chennithala. Justice Sunil Thomas set...

The Kerala High Court has set aside the vigilance probe which was ordered into the alleged illegal mining of sand accumulated along the banks of river Pampa.

In August 2020, the Vigilance Special Court in Thiruvananthapuram had ordered a Vigilance inquiry into the charges of corruption based on a petition filed by Senior Congress Leader Ramesh Chennithala.  

Justice Sunil Thomas set aside the vigilance court's order on a review petition filed by the State. 

"The essential point of challenge in the complaint was the legality and correctness of the order passed by the Collector in his capacity as the Disaster Management Authority. Hence, the decision taken by the authority was under challenge and necessarily, sanction under section 17A of the Act was warranted. In the case at hand, by Annexure A order produced along with the criminal revision, sanction sought was rejected. Annexure A order has not been challenged. Without challenging that order, the petitioner has approached this Court. It stands in the way of the court passing an order of investigation. As long as Annexure A remain, the action of the court in ordering the preliminary enquiry cannot be sustained."

Initially, Chennithala had approached the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau director with a request to conduct a probe into the alleged illegal sand mining. However, the State government turned down this request. 

Aggrieved by this, he aproached the Vigilance Court. It was alleged that the contract given to mine and transport river sand from Pampa to a nearly defunct Kannur based public sector unit headed by CPM leader T.K. Govindan, Kerala Clays and Ceramic Products, was merely a ruse to hand over the costly sand virtually free to a private party.

This sand had accumulated at the banks of the river after the 2018 and 2019 floods. Since the sand deposits seemed to have shrunk the depth of the river and blocked its flow, it was dredged and accumulated along the sides. According to him, more than 1.25 lakh thousand million cubics feet of sand had accumulated at Pampa.

In his petition, Chennithala contended that the government had used flood preparedness as a cover to violate Forest Conservation Act, 1980, and in the process wanted a private agency to profit from the sale of public sand.

Case Title: State of Kerala v. Ramesh Chennithala & Ors. 

Click Here To Read/Download The Order 


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