The Madras High Court Bench in Madurai on Friday directed the State government to permit PRP Granites and PRP Exports, facing criminal proceedings in a multi-crore granite quarry scam, to continue quarry operations over the leased property strictly in terms of the lease in force.
Justice Vinod Kumar Sharma passed the order while disposing of a couple of writ petitions filed by the two firms against the sealing of their premises, freezing of bank accounts, seizure of their vehicles, and other curbs imposed on their business. However, the judge said that his order permitting the petitioners to continue the quarrying operations would not stand in the way of the government officials taking appropriate action by following the due process of law under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, and the rules framed thereunder, if required.
The judge held that the officials should also release the bank accounts and allow the petitioners to carry on their business in accordance with law.
However, it would be the duty of the petitioners to submit fortnightly Statement of Accounts to the Investigating Officer. He also quashed an order restraining exports and imports and ordered that the officials should not interfere in the export and import business of the petitioner firms under valid documents.
The seal put up on the administrative buildings of the petitioner firms must be opened after the police take possession of the documents, computers, hard disks, and other materials required for investigation within three days from November 7.
As agreed between the police and the petitioners, the petitioner was directed to depute two persons along with an expert, if so advised, to be present at the administrative building on November 7 for handing over the material.
The judge made it clear that the petitioners would be entitled to get copies of the documents lying within the premises and permit the Investigating Officer to take away the computers, hard disks and other documents which were required for the Investigation.
With regard to the vehicles, equipment and other accessories seized by the authorities under the Motor Vehicles Act, or in criminal cases, it was left open to the petitioner to take appropriate remedy in accordance with law.