HC refuses to discharge ex-MLA, his firm, partners from illegal ore export cases

They pertain to export of seized iron ore from Belekeri port

The High Court of Karnataka has rejected the plea of several accused persons, including a former MLA, a former deputy conservator of port, and directors of private companies, to discharge them from cases of illegal export of seized iron ore from Belekeri port in Karwar during 2009–10.

The court rejected the petitions of Shree Mallikarjun Shipping Pvt. Ltd. and its managing director Satish Krishna Sail, a former MLA for Karwar; Shri Lal Mahal Ltd. and its directors Prem Chand Garg and Sushil Kumar Valecha of New Delhi; and Mahesh J. Biliye, the then Deputy Conservator of Belekeri port (now retired).

Justice John Michael Cunha passed the order while upholding the orders passed by the Special Court for CBI cases during 2016–17. The Special Court had decided to frame charges against them while declining to discharge them from the cases, in which the Central Bureau of Investigation had filed chargesheets against them after conducting the probe, ordered by the Supreme Court.

The High Court has held that the Special Court had followed the procedure prescribed in law while dismissing their plea for discharge and deciding to frame charges against them.

Also, the High Court said that the Special Court had rightly decided to frame the charges of criminal conspiracy against Mr. Sail as there were other materials, which independently constitute ingredients of the offences, available against him apart from his role as managing director of the company.

“The Special Court has considered these allegations in extenso and having found that the material produced by the prosecution prima facie make out the ingredients of offences under sections 120-B read with Sections 409 and 420 of IPC against petitioner number-2 [Mr. Sail] has proceeded to frame charges for the above offences. I do not find any error or infirmity in the orders warranting interference,” Mr. Justice Cunha observed.

On the charges against the former deputy conservator port, the High Court said that the documents clearly reveal that Mr. Biliye himself had allowed export of seized ore under his seal and signature. Also, the High Court declined to accept his contention that he was totally unaware of the transaction and that he has been made a scapegoat by the forest officials to save themselves from the illegalities committed by them in effecting seizure of the ore.

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