Shah should keep his mouth shut

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Justice M.B.Shah heading a commission of inquiry is to probe into illegal mining in Orissa and several other States and to submit his report to the union government within 18 months of commencement of its first sitting as per terms of reference.

The ‘Terms of Reference’ need the Commission to do the following jobs:

i. to inquire into and determine the nature and extent of mining and trade and transportation, done illegally or without lawful authority, of iron ore and manganese ore, and the losses resulting there from; and to identify, as far as possible, the persons, firms, companies and others that are engaged in such mining, trade and transportation of iron ore and manganese ore, done illegally or without lawful authority;

ii. to inquire into and determine the extent to which the management,regulatory and monitoring systems have failed to deter, prevent, detect and punish offences relating to mining, storage, transportation, trade and export of such ore, done illegally or without lawful authority, and the persons
responsible for the same;

iii. to inquire into the tampering of official records, including records relating to land and boundaries, to facilitate illegal mining and to identify, as far as possible, the persons responsible for such tampering; and

iv. to inquire into the overall impact of such mining, trade, transportation and export, done illegally or without lawful authority, in terms of destruction of forest wealth, damage to the environment, prejudice to livelihood and other rights of tribal people, forest dwellers and other persons in the mined areas,and the financial losses caused to the Central and State Governments.

Nowhere the ‘Term of Reference’ has given any power to Justice Shah or any member of his team to vomit speculations in the public before TV cameras or while entertaining any media person, about whether or not political leaders are connected with the loot. He or any member of the Commission has, similarly, no right to say that bureaucracy is involved with illegal mining.

The Terms of Reference asks him to carry out many such jobs that include the responsibility to expose the persons responsible for illegalities to be unveiled.

Sadly, Justice Shah has started giving the impression that politicians, specifically the gang in occupation of power in Orissa is fit for a clean chit.

It would be proper for him to keep his mouth shut before coming to a final conclusion through investigation and submission of the ‘Report of Inquiry’ as his premature vomiting before the Press is likely to prejudice the investigating staff.

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