HC pulls up Collector for giving clean chit to granite firm

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Madurai, Feb 5 (PTI) Criticising the District Collector forthe manner in which he gave a clean chit to a city-basedgranite exporter accused of suppression of transactions andconsequent tax evasion, Madras High Court Bench here hasdirected the Commissioner of Geology and Mines department toconduct a detailed probe into the charges.

Quashing the July 2, 2009 order by the Collector givingclean chit to P R P Exports, Justice K Chandru ordered theCommissioner to inspect the mine fields leased to the firm, ifnecessary, and complete the enquiry in three months.

The Judge criticised the Collector for not approaching theissue in a proper perspective and treating the matter as adispute between the petitioner and the firm rather than anissue involving loss of revenue to the public exchequer.

Allowing a writ petition filed by S.Murugesan ofGomathipuram here, he said :"It was as if he (the Collector)was sitting and hearing the dispute as an umpire. A perusal ofthe impugned order showed that passage after passage wasborrowed from the information supplied by the P.R.P.Exportsand there was no independent consideration,"the Judge said.

The Collector had not considered a report submitted by theEnforcement Wing''s (Commercial taxes) report, which found outthat the firm had arrears to the tune of Rs 96.32 lakh.

On perusing the entire records relating to the inquiry heldby the Collector, the judge found out that the official, inone of the documents, had concluded that the petitioner hadmade a false complaint with a view to defaming the firm.

In the counter affidavit too, he had said the writ petitionhad been filed to stall the trial in a defamation suit filedby the firm.

Shocked over the Collector''s reference to a private suit inwhich he was not a party at all, the judge said:"Curiously,theimpugned order of the Collector is also appended to the suit.

This is a strange coincidence between the suit filed and thereliance placed upon the Collector''s report as the basis forclaiming damages.

"The Collector''s contention that the attempt of thepetitioner by filing the writ petition is to forestall thecontinuance of the suit was uncalled for," the Judge said.

The Collector had conducted the inquiry following thepetitioner''s complaint to the Chief Minister''s cell on thestrength of the disparity in information obtained under theRight to Information Act.

While the firm had exported 6,94,90,188 cubic metres ofgranite blocks between 2004 and 2008 as per the Department ofGeology, the Customs Commissioner at the Tuticorin port gavethe figure to be 1,14,543 cubic metres.

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