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Govt. gets serious in fight against illegal sand mining

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Police, public officials to be booked under Goondas Act

The State government on Wednesday informed the Madras High Court of having issued a Government Order instructing all public officials as well as policemen that they would also be detained under the Goondas Act if they were found to be involved in illegal mining of river sand or abetting the offence of sand smuggling.

Justices S.M. Subramaniam and S. Ramathilagam closed a case, in which they had directed the government to issue such instructions, after recording the contents of the G.O. produced by State Public Prosecutor C. Emalias. The direction had been issued to the Home Secretary on May 8 along with a rider to report compliance.

The G.O. issued by the Home department culled out extracts of the court order and read: “The government has carefully examined the above direction of the honourable Division Bench of the Madras High Court. The government has been keen to prevent sand theft and sand smuggling with effective and prompt action by government officials.

“Many instructions have been issued to the concerned by the government in this regard from time to time. The need of the hour is to maintain the vast fertile eco system of this State in the stable form by curtailing all types of sand smuggling with the services of the government officials. In view of the position set out above, the officials are bound to prevent such offences.

“The government instructs that the government officials, including police officials concerned, if found violating the instructions already issued or involved in illegal sand removal or abetting the commission of the offence of sand smuggling as defined under the Tamil Nadu Act 14 of 1982 (Goondas Act), will be dealt by invoking the Act.”

The Tamil Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug Offenders, Forest Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders, Sand Offenders, Sexual Offenders, Slum Grabbers and Video Pirates Act of 1982 (popularly known as Goondas Act) provides for preventive detention of alleged offenders for a maximum period of one year.

Dual action

The G.O. also made it clear that erring government officials would have to face both prosecution under criminal laws and disciplinary action. When the senior judge wanted to know whether the G.O. had been circulated to all the government officials across the State, the SPP replied in the affirmative and said that it would come into force immediately.

Expressing satisfaction over the issuance of the G.O., Mr. Justice Subramaniam told the SPP that he had recently come across a news in the media of an Inspector of Police having demanded bribe from sand smugglers in Perambalur district. The telephone conversation between them had been recorded and telecast in some television channels.

It was also reported that the Inspector had been suspended from service pending enquiry into the genuineness of the audio clip. He should be dealt with in accordance with the present G.O. and all others in the future should also be handled severely. “Only then, this menace of sand smuggling could be curtailed,” the judge said.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 9:14:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/govt-gets-serious-in-fight-against-illegal-sand-mining/article25116741.ece

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