Meghalaya Police To High Court: Operators Of Illegal Coke Plants Mostly Based In Assam, Also Detected Several Benami Transactions

The Meghalaya High Court in the case Shailendra Kumar Sharma v. State of Meghalaya And ors observed and has directed in order to find out the persons behind the setting up of illegal coke oven plants in Shailang Area of the West Khasi Hills Districts, the police told the court that the investigation made revealed that the operators are mostly based in Assam and raids have been conducted to arrest them.
Further, the court was also informed by DGP Dr. L.R. Bishnoi that the actual owners or operators of the illegal coke plants are concerned, the investigation from owners of the land has revealed that they are mostly being based in Assam and have been running the illegal business in Meghalaya and also several benami transactions = come to light in the investigation for which request had already been made to the competent court in order to add section 53(1) of Benami Prohibition) Act, 2016 in the case which is pending.
Further, it has been stated by DGP that illegal coke plants were operating on the land belonging to clan kurSohbar and a notice as stated under section 91 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was issued to manager or agent of the clan. The said court also found that the land on which the illegal coke oven plant were operating belong to 32 persons and all of them are females and mostly aged women.
Adding to it, the DGP submitted that section 41A of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 notice was issued to them and the said investigation revealed that the majority of the 28 persons are based in Assam and very few are based in Meghalaya.
Further, the court was also informed that raids were conducted in Assam and Meghalaya to arrest these 28 persons but they have been found to be absconding from their available addresses and till date no arrests have been made and if the accused in the case are not traced an appropriate action under Section 82 and 83 CrPC will be initiated.
The court in the case observed that 57 illegal coke oven plants were shut down in the Shallang area of West Khasi Hills District in December 2022. Therefore, an FIR was registered under section 188 and section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 reading with section 21(1) of the MMDR A R Act. Consequently, it has been requested by the Forest and Environment Department toa dd section 379 and section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860; section 3(1) r/w 21 of Mines and Mineral Development And Regulation Act, MMDR Act, 1957; Section 15 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and section 3 of the Explosives Substance Act, 1908 in the FIR.
The court is now also informed by the DGP that to completely quell the illegal extraction of transportation of coal in the district, the Deputy Commissioner, West Khasi Hills has directed the authorities coke oven plants to temporarily suspend the operations of them, till their source coal audit is completed by Justice (retd.) Katakey Committee who had been appointed by the High Court.

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