Advocate General opposes granite exporter’s plea to unseal factories

The State government on Monday accused the erstwhile Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam regime of inaction in the granite quarry scam in Madurai district despite complaints lodged by a cross section of people to the government as well as the district administration.

Advocate General A. Navaneethakrishnan made the accusation during the hearing of writ petitions filed by PRP Granites and PRP Exports against recent action taken in sealing their factories, seizing vehicles and suspending quarrying operations in 55 licensed sites spread over 584.83 acres in the district.

Justifying the action taken jointly by the district administration as well as the police against a number of granite quarries including those belonging to the writ petitioners, the Advocate General said that it was done only after the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam assumed power in May last.

Enquiry under Section 24

He said the government had ordered for enquiry by exercising its powers under Section 24 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. The Advocate General also said P. Suresh Kumar, a partner of the petitioner firms, was an absconding accused and so he had no locus standi to file the present cases.

However, Justice Vinod Kumar Sharma intervened and said: “I have no jurisdiction to interfere with the investigation of the criminal cases filed by the police. I am not on that at all. The issue before me is relating to preventing the petitioners from continuing business operations.

“I am here only to see whether you are acting in accordance with law or whether you are acting arbitrarily. If you are acting arbitrarily, I will not allow you to do that. There is no law which says that if a person is guilty of an offence, his or her writ is not maintainable.”

Further, finding force in the petitioners’ contention that their business operations were suspended without issuing show cause notices, the judge said: “The Supreme Court says that you cannot enquire into a matter, make it a positive case in favour of you and then issue notices.”

Case adjourned to Thursday

Later, he adjourned the hearing of the case to Thursday at the request of the Advocate General. The petitioners were represented by Supreme Court senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan.