The Lokayukta has asked the former chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar, director of mines Prasanna Acharya and former mines secretary Pawan Kumar Sain to file their replies into a ‘detailed investigation, in connection with a private complaint filed by an NGO into illegal renewal of 88 iron ore mining leases’, which is fixed on September 17.
The state anti-corruption ombudsman has recently passed an order for a detailed probe into the alleged en masse second ‘illegal renewal’ of 88 mining leases for three years in the state.
The complainant while pointing out irregularities in the order of state government granting renewal has sought for an investigation and prayed to recommend appropriate action against the acts of corruption and abuse of power by the respondents in order to benefit some private mine operators.
However, during preliminary inquiry all the respondents contended that since the complainant in the writ petition before the Supreme Court has prayed to direct for initiation of the prima facie case of corruption under Section 13 of Prevention of Corruption Act in grant of second renewal of leases but the apex court did not grant it hence it must be deemed that such a prayer is rejected and therefore the principle of res judicata would be applicable.
The former chief minister and minister for mines Laxmikant Parsekar in his submission has denied the allegation relating to abuse of powers and said that the decision to grant renewal was the policy decision of the state government and the cabinet, however, such renewals were granted in order to comply with the High Court order asking them to decide the second renewal within three months.
He has further claimed that complainant has selectively and conveniently left out certain individuals who were also part of the process while granting the second renewal orders.
Similarly, the former secretary of mines and the director of mines both have also opposed the inquiry on grounds that Supreme Court has not granted the similar relief in the writ petition filed before it hence it deemed to have been rejected.
They also claimed that there is no evidence on record to suggest that the second renewal was for personal gains of the respondents. In his reply, the complainant, while admitting that the apex court did not consider his prayer of initiating an investigation under Prevention of Corruption Act, has said that the court has left open the question relating to arbitrariness of the policy decision of the government.
The Lokayukta in his order has questioned the applicability of principle of res judicata and said that even assuming that there cannot be any prosecution under Section 13 of the PC Act does it mean that no other recommendation can be made in accordance with Section 16A or for initiation for any departmental proceeding for imposing minor or major penalty.
“If such an extreme view is to be taken, the judgment of the Supreme Court would amount to an order of acquittal even before launching a prosecution,” Lokayukta has said.
“I do not consider that in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the present case it can be said at this stage that the present proceeding is barred by the principles of res judicata. At this stage, it cannot be predicated as to whether there is any substance that the allegations of abuse and misuse of powers and corruption by respondents are substantiated or not as such a conclusion would depend upon the detailed investigation,” the order reads.