Current Affairs

Did Goa Govt’s decision to send Junior Legal Counsel’s lead to SC ban on mining?

The Goa Government has found itself in an unusual predicament surrounding the mining crisis following the recent Supreme Court Order suspending mining operations and also the transportation of iron-ore in the state after a petition was filed by Goa Foundation. But exclusive information coming to from senior advocates present at the SC during the hearing of the petition, reveal that the Goa government’s appears to have brought upon itself the ‘curse of the mining ban’.

It is a known fact, as traced through the petition that Goa Government was not made party to the petition filed by Goa Foundation. Even the Chief Minister, Manohar Parrikar categorically stated to the media that the government was not a party to the petition. But contrary to the government’s statement and even though they were not party to the petition, the government did send its Junior Legal Counsel Siddharth Bhatnagar as its representative to attend the Supreme Court hearing on the petition filed by Claude Alvares and his legal counsel Prashanth Bhushan.

Attending the hearing, some senior advocates felt was the first error on part of the Goa government. This is simply because the Supreme Court would not issue a ban order without ensuring that the state government is represented. It would have in the normal course of action, issued a notice asking for the state government to put forth its point of view on the petition. But the government appointed junior legal counsel on his own without any provocation or inquiry approached the SC (Forest Bench) of Justice Aftab Alam, Justice Radhakrishnan and Justice Sawanthakar Kumar and accepted to the be served the notice on behalf of the Goa government.

Strangely, the action of the government’s counsel came at a time, when the Forest Bench of the Supreme Court appeared to be, not in favor of passing an order of ban to the mining operations in Goa, since the state government had already issued a ban. The presence of the Goa government legal representative and his acceptance to be served a notice, led to further exchange of view-points between different counsels, including the Advocate representing the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) who then prayed that the SC consider that the Goa government should consider the Karnataka-like situation in Goa and also ban transportation of iron-ore.

Senior advocates have told that the second error on part of the government was that it indeed wanted to send a legal representative knowing the gravity of the situation, it could have sent a senior legal counsel. Also if the junior legal counsel was present, he could have prayed for sometime for the Goa government to put its view across. But since chose to accept the notice and was present at hearing; following which Prashanth Bhushan push the case forward on the transportation of iron-ore and restricting that as well. This led to the Supreme Court order suspending mining operation in the state.

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