J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI: A vacation Bench of the Supreme Court on Monday directed the writ petition filed by the former deputy general manager with the Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC), V. Anjaneya, to permit him to become an approver and witness against the alleged illegal mining operations by the Reddy brothers, to be listed for hearing before the Forest Bench.

This would be taken up with pending Special Leave Petitions filed by the State of Andhra Pradesh and others.

A Bench comprising Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice C.K. Prasad posted the matter to be heard by the Forest Bench immediately after the summer vacation.

When counsel for the petitioner submitted that the petitioner wanted protection, the Bench said it was rejecting this prayer and suggested that he could approach the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission. The petitioner accordingly withdrew his plea.

In his writ petition, Mr. Anjaneya said he was ready to become a witness and approver. He said: “The petitioner being a technical person and required to be present on the ground had witnessed the entire operations right from the day of his joining in June 2006, and at every time the lease area was changed so as to mine the commercial grade ore in the adjoining areas.”

The writ petition added: “The petitioner is willing to come on record and provide the entire details as to how the OMC management is able to extract 25,000 tonnes of commercially grade iron ore everyday when the total extractable ore as per the Indian Bureau of Mines report from Obulapuram mines — the only lease hold mine which Mr. Janardana Reddy and his brother have — is four lakh tonne per annum, which is roughly 1,100 tonnes per day.” The petition alleged that to achieve this target, the Reddy brothers had changed the State boundary markers and destroyed the tri-junction points right in front of the petitioner to get at least 50 acres of mining area with huge commercial grade deposits.

It said that by mining into the forest area and non-leased area, they were able to mine 20 times the capacity of what was statutorily available to them under their mining areas.

While seeking a CBI probe into the alleged illegal mining activities, Mr. Anjaneya sought permission to turn approver and cooperate with its investigation and to confer necessary protection on the petitioner by reason of his turning approver.