Uliburu mining scam: a legal quagmire

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

We are in a quagmire. Mafia has taken over Orissa. Loot of mines knows no limit and goes on non-stop as the governments both under Naveen Patnaik in the State and Manmohan Singh in the Center have created the most congenial climate for this crime against the land.

One such loot is estimated to be of Rs.1800 crore worth, committed in Uliburu iron ore mines in Keonjhar District. Co-accused Deepak Gupta, Haricharan Gupta, Kantidevi Gupta, and Nitu Gupta have been protected from arrest by interim orders of Orissa High Court, that continues to extend the protection.

The Special Vigilance Court, Keonjhar has been stymied from proceeding in the case against the Guptas as they are not making themselves available for trial. The vigilance police could have arrested them and produced before the court; but it is unable to act, because of the interim protection given to the co-accused Guptas. When thousands of individuals are perishing in jails because of denial of bail lest they tamper with documents or gain over investigating officers or witness if not arrested and kept in custody, why the Guptas are being kept free, is a conundrum.

When a single judge protects co-beneficiaries of such a scam worth 1800 crores of rupees by granting them interim protection and such protection gets extended from time to time, looking at the affairs askance may not be entirely unnatural. In such circumstances, is it not proper for the Chief Justice of the High Court to constitute a bench with several judges to find out if such interim protection is essential in cause of justice and if these Guptas are so reliable for the High Court to enjoy its protection from arrest, why have innumerable people of Orissa are perishing in jails by rejection of their bail petitions by the judiciary? Are they unreliable? Really?

No judicial forum should make a mockery of justice by holding co-accused scamsters reliable than ordinary citizens. The interim protection given time and again to the co-accused Guptas could not have been possible had the concerned judge not been of the opinion that they are too reliable to be arrested. It conversely raises the question: Is the Vigilance police/ prosecutor in this case, not reliable in eyes of the judge? Has the judge conducted any reliability test?

A division bench comprising several judges should find the answer so that people’s faith in judiciary does not crack and they may be saved from the current legal quagmire.

4 comments » Write a comment

  1. Court is merely granting bail, not posting main accused as Chief Secretary and giving him post retirement job. He was made Chief Secretary by same CM who has given 57 FIR’s against him to CBI. I can give copies of those FIR’s obtained from CBI under RTI.

  2. I wonder whether we should assume that the Deepak Gupta’s old parents and wife are automatically guilty and “scamsters” just because of the Vigilance Department’s allegations. I also find it hard to believe that they will be able to tamper with documents and witnesses given that the Vigilance officials have been investigating the case for such a long time. It is indeed sad that there are thousands of undertrials are languishing in jail due to bail being rejected, since it is a violation of the basic principle of justice that one is innocent until proven guilty. Hence we should commend the judge who has the guts to grant bail to an old couple and a housewife instead of taking the easy way out and throwing them in prison.

    • Instead of seeking protection from the High Court, they should have appeared before the vigilance court and availed bail from there. To them, was the vigilance court not the proper court? In scam cases no single judge should grant protection to the accused. Collective judicial wisdom should always be stressed upon. This is necessary because the mafia rules the roost in this country as increasingly being marked; and judiciary has created an environment when probity in judiciary has so much become casualty that the country has been brooding over the necessity of making judicial accountability a must. Therefore, we stress, in cases like the one discussed, a division bench comprising two or more judges should hear and decide the bail or granting of protection matters. About the other point you have raised, instead of holding a person “not guilty” till proven guilty, the norm should be holding a person “guilty” till not proven “not guilty”. Every accused should be granted bail under condition that, during the period of bail, he/she must prove himself/herself “not guilty” failing which bail should automatically collapse. This is essential for saving our society from manipulators and mafia who are benefiting from the current notion on bail.

  3. Some Judges (of any level) thrive better in muddy waters or in other words creating confusion is their cup of tea. It is only the honest ones of the Judges who give just judgements that help our country survive; else the country would have long been lost to dogs (when our Law making Houses are full of Members who are on roll call in their respective Thanas). What more could we expect in this scenario ???

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