Sand mining offenders to be tried by JMFC courts

40 cases on illegal sand mining, stocking and transportation have been transferred

As many as 40 cases ofi llegal sand mining, stocking and its transportation pending before the Dakshina Kannada Principal District and Sessions Court, which is the special court constituted under Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR) Act 1957, have been transferred to jurisdictional JMFC (Judicial Magistrate First Class) courts.

This was done following directions by Justice K.N. Phaneendra, Judge, Karnataka High Court, in his judgement dated November 15, 2017.

According to a senior official from the Prosecution Department, most of the cases that have been transferred by the Principal District and Sessions Court to the JMFC court are the ones that have been registered by the police.

A few are those of the Mines and Geology Department where the Principal District and Sessions Judge has found that the department has not followed steps necessary to register cases under the MMDR Act.

The Department of Prosecution has favoured filing an appeal against the order of the Principal District and Sessions Court, Dakshina Kannada, on the grounds that the special court cannot revert the cases after taking cognisance of final reports filed by the police.

In the order, Justice Phaneendra had directed the special courts to transfer all the cases to the jurisdictional JMFCs for trial of the accused for offences under Section 378 (theft) and 379 (punishment for theft) of the Indian Penal Code charged by the police.

The High Court held that the special court has no jurisdiction to receive final report of the police and take cognisance of offences under the MMDR Act and other penal laws. Quoting the Supreme Court judgement of 2015, the High Court ruled that the special court can hold trial of only those cases committed to it by the JMFC court that takes cognisance of the private complaint filed by the officer authorised under the MMDR Act.

While noting that the police cannot file final report for offences under the MMDR Act, the High Court permitted police to submit final report for offences under the IPC before the magistrate.

The High Court has pointed out the need for an amendment to the MMDR Act to enable the special court to take direct cognisance of offences under the Act instead of the cumbersome process of committal of cases from the JMFC court to the Special Court.

A senior law officer from Prosecution Department (Joint Director Prosecution Mangaluru) expressed the need for amendment to Section 22 of the MMDR Act to allow police too to book the offenders.

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