Deploy 10 Companies of CAPFs to Check Illegal Coal Transportation in Meghalaya: High Court

The Meghalaya High Court has directed the Union Home Ministry to deploy 10 companies of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) to check the transportation of illegally mined coal in the northeastern state.

A bench of the high court headed by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee said this while hearing a PIL on the matter on Wednesday.

“The Union Ministry of Home Affairs, through the Home Secretary, is directed to ensure the deployment of 10 companies of appropriate Central Armed Police Force to be commanded independently or jointly by officers from the local police that may be selected by the Court, strictly for the purpose of keeping a vigil on the roads and arresting the illegal transportation of illegally mined coal in the state,” the court said.

It also directed for Union Home ministry’s response through the secretary should be available when the matter appears next.

This was after the Deputy Solicitor General of India Dr Mozika informed that the Central Industrial Security Force is unwilling to take up the assignment of deploying 10 companies for the purpose of checking illegal transportation of coal in the state, primarily, because the nature of the work does not fall within the usual activities undertaken by CISF.

The court said it did not seek the deployment of CISF in particular, but in view of the fact that it wanted a more independent force to check the illegality since the Central Reserve Police Force are under the direct control of the state police.

“The real intention of this court was for the local police not to be associated in the process since it had been ineffective in such regard, the CISF may be the appropriate force,” the order said.

The high court also stated that despite the apparent unwillingness on the part of the CISF, the relevant force would be bound thereby to an order of the court.

The bench said, “Rampant illegal mining of coal has continued in the state and such illegally mined coal has been allowed to be freely transported, even to the extent of being regularly exported to Bangladesh by possible false declarations that the coal originated elsewhere.”

Justice B P Katakey, who heads a special committee to make special recommendations on the measures to be taken by all concerned to orders of the NGT and the Supreme Court, who had also filed the 12th interim report, had proposed that all previously mined coal is to be auctioned to avoid freshly mined coal to be passed off as previously mined coal.

“It is imperative that such a timeline is adhered to since freshly mined coal is being sought to be passed off as previously illegally mined coal in the state,” it said.

Meanwhile, the state government submitted that a notification was issued in March last year for prevention of illegal mining, transportation and storage.

Another notification in July last year wherein the state government has constituted special courts in districts for the speedy trial of such offences.

While the Additional Advocate General insisted that there was now a system in place which has completely stopped the illegal transportation of coal, the court was informed of an accident in Ri-Bhoi district in which a truck illegally transporting coal was reported.

“There is no doubt that both illegal mining and illegal transportation of coal continues and, if the rule of law is to be asserted in this state, it cannot be done with the present machinery available in the state,” the court stated.

The next hearing of the case is slated for April 27.

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