The State government on Tuesday claimed that PRP Exports and PRP Granites, both under scanner in the multi-crore granite quarry scam in the district, had admitted their guilt in affidavits sworn by them in support of writ petitions filed in the Madras High Court Bench seeking to unseal their premises and let them resume business.
Advocate General A. Navaneethakrishnan made the claim while arguing a couple of writ appeals filed by the State challenging an order passed by a single judge on November 2 to unseal the granite companies’ administrative buildings at Therkutheru in Melur Taluk near here. The appeals were heard by a Division Bench of Justice K.N. Basha and Justice P. Devadass on Tuesday.
The AG said the affidavits filed by the two firms before the single judge had stated that they were not only mining granite from lands leased out to them by the government but also purchasing granite blocks from miners in other States, polishing them and then selling the value added product in the domestic market as well as through exports.
Taking exception to the admitted practice of purchasing granite blocks from other miners, the AG said such purchase and storage could not be done by the two firms which were not classified as ‘mineral dealers’ in accordance with the definition of the term under the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Illegal Mining, Transportation, Storage of Minerals and Mineral Dealers Rules.
“These two firms are entitled only to mine granite from the lands leased to them and export them in accordance with law. They have no right to store on their lands granite mined elsewhere. They have filed affidavits in this court conceding to be violators of law. They have admitted their offence and hence they require to be punished accordingly,” the AG said.
He also said the district administration had already suspended 16 of the 56 mining leases granted to the two firms.
Rebutting the contentions, senior counsel R. Krishnamoorthy, appearing for one of the two private firms, said the State was attempting to improve its case rather than confining to the writ appeals and proving illegality, if any, in the orders passed by the single judge.
Stating that charges of violation of rules relating to ‘mineral dealers’ were issues that the companies would face separately through appropriate proceedings, the senior counsel said the State must confine itself to the merits of the writ appeal especially in the context of the single judge having held most of the actions taken by the State as illegal and unworthy of acceptance.
After hearing elaborate arguments advanced by both sides, the judges adjourned the hearing of the writ appeals to Wednesday.