Minister, bureaucrat sentenced to one-month jail
New Delhi, May 10: Sending clear signals that everyone irrespective of his status in the society has to comply with the orders of the court, the Supreme Court today sentenced Maharashtra Transport Minister Swaroop Singh Nayak and state Additional Chief Secretary Ashok Khot to one-month simple imprisonment for violation of the court orders.
Nayak was state forest minister and Khot was Principal forest secretary in 2004, when they permitted six veneer and plywood mills to operate from the reserve forest area in the state. This was in violation of the apex court order passed in 1997, ordering the closure of over 100 such mills operating from the forest area.
A bench, comprising Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal, Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat and Mr Justice S H Kapadia, in their order observed ''the contemners were guilty of insertion of notes in official file with oblique motive. In this case, they deserve severe punishment as this will set an example for those who have temerity of disregarding the court order irrespective of their social and official status.'' The Minister has, however, taken the defence that he had accepted the report of the seniormost officer in his ministry, who was having difference of opinion with his deputy secretary. He also pleaded that the license to the six mills was granted by Centre under the Industries Development Regulation Act and the state government has no role to play.
Meanwhile, Mr Tapesh Kumar Singh, counsel for the contemner, said he would file a review petition along with the application for suspension of the sentence.