MAC: Mines and Communities

Indian Judge alleged to be hand in glove with miners

Published by MAC on 2008-02-15

Indian Judge alleged to be hand in glove with miners

15th February 2008

Last week, we published on this site an article accusing India's Forest department of receiving bribes from mining companies, and others. See:

Now, an Orissa fortnighly journal alleges that a Supreme Court Judge, responsible for implementing laws protecting forests, is hand-in-glove with some of those companies.


Editorial, Samadrusti

1-15 February 2008

We are familiar with instances how politicians and bureaucrats bound by the provisions of constitutions are indulging themselves in anti-constitutional activities. But it was never within the comprehension of the middle class that even Judges of this country would also go against the provisions of the constitution and laws of the land. Those who have read the online posting of Samapad Mohapatra of NDTV on 20th December 2007 might have got a real shock.

It may be recalled that the Supreme Court of India had constituted a special forest bench to hear cases related to the violation of forest and conservation laws of the country. Mr.Arjit Pasayat who hails from Orissa serves as the Judge on this bench. The constitutional responsibility of Mr Pasayat is to uphold the established forest and conservation laws and acts as well as constitutional provisions for environmental protection.

Given Justice Pasayat's constitutional obligation, it must have been shocking for journalists such as Sri Mohapatra to hear him state that "those who focus too much on protection of forest and wildlife.... harm the society at large". He did not talk about who in the society will be harmed and how. Again he said, ''Green cover versus green currency. We have to choose between the two….." This was stated by Justice Pasayat while addressing a seminar at Hotel Swosti Plaza, Bhubaneswar

Justice Pasayat also ridiculed the statistics given on the reserve forests in the country in the same speech and asked for taking a lenient view of the forest and conservation laws of the country.

Mr Pasayat's speech must have been music to the enemies of Orissa's forest and environment like the Tatas, the Jindals, the Vedanta's, the Posco etc who seem to have great faith in him. A Judge of his stature is not expected to behave like a cheap politician and should not be seen to be advocating for the industrialists of the state. This has disturbed many right thinking individuals. There is no harm if Mr. Pasayat makes such partisan statements like this after resigning from his constitutional responsibility as an Apex Court Judge. He should remember the fact that all his judgments delivered by the virtue of being in the Forest Bench have gone in favor of the Corporate Sector…Niyamgiri, Tangarapada etc. After his Bhubaneswar speech, Mr Priyabrata Pattnaik (the controversial IAS officer responsible for POSCO affairs in GOO) met him during his Orissa visit. Immediately after that, one hears the report of POSCO approaching the Forest Bench to set aside the recommendations of the CEC of the Supreme Court which have gone against POSCO. Recently because of a judgment delivered by Mr. Pasayat in the SC, the A.S. Naidu Commission enquiring in to the Kallinganagar police killings was rendered infructous.

Given his record, we are convinced to suggest that after his Bhubaneswar speech, Justice Pasayat should resign from his present constitutional position and come out in open in favor of private companies in Orissa. Till the time he takes such a decision he should at least keep himself away from hearing all cases relating to Orissa-because we don't believe after speaking so much against established laws of the country he will be able to protect them.

Sudhir Pattnaik

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