Mining regulator may fine up to Rs. 5 lakh a day
TOUGH days are ahead for miners violating the country’s mining laws as the Mines Ministry has sought the Group of Ministers (GoM) nod for conferring prosecution powers on its proposed National Mineral Regulatory Authority (NMRA).
If the GoM headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee okays the draft Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill 2010, then the violators will have to shell out Rs.10,00,000 as a fine and a further fine of Rs.5 lakh every day in case of continuing contravention.
In the recent meeting of the GoM, the ministry suggested that NMRA’s functions be deemed as “judicial proceedings within Sections 193, 219 and 228 for the purposes of section 196 of the Indian Penal Code and the Regulatory Authority shall be deemed to be a civil court...” and would be empowered to award “punitive damages.”
The NMRA should be empowered to authorize investigation for offences including financial transactions relating to illegal mining, illegal export of mined minerals and on information indicating that the offences may be cognizable by central investigation agencies, the ministry proposed to the GoM.
It pointed out that all revision cases pending before the Centre under Section 30 of the MMDR Act 1957, on commencement of the proposed Act would be automatically transferred to NMRA.
Introducing a stringent clause in the Bill, the ministry said if a person was convicted under the Act relating to Section 65 (sub-section 1) he would be punishable with fine "which may extend to Rs.5,00,000 and in case of a second or subsequent offence with fine which may extend to Rs.10,00,000.”
Further in case of continuing contravention with additional extendable to Rs.5,00,000 for every day during which the default continued, according to the ministry.
In case of understandably minor violations the person would be fined Rs.500 and in case of second or subsequent offence could be fined Rs.1,000 and on continuing contravention with an additional fine of Rs.1,000 every day. As for the NMRA, the ministry has told the GoM that it should have one chairperson and should not have more than seven expert members and as many judicial members. The principal bench of the authority should be based in the capital, it said.