Justice A.D. Jagadish Chandira of the Madras High Court on Thursday dismissed a batch of 40 anticipatory bail petitions filed by 91 people accused of smuggling river sand from various parts of the State, saying it was high time a stringent message was sent to those who indulge in plundering natural wealth unabashedly.

TAMIL NADU
Sand smugglers do not deserve discretionary relief of advance bail, says HC
Legal Correspondent
CHENNAI 04 SEPTEMBER 2020 11:08 IST
UPDATED: 04 SEPTEMBER 2020 11:08 IST

Court denies the benefit to 91 individuals at one go
Justice A.D. Jagadish Chandira of the Madras High Court on Thursday dismissed a batch of 40 anticipatory bail petitions filed by 91 people accused of smuggling river sand from various parts of the State, saying it was high time a stringent message was sent to those who indulge in plundering natural wealth unabashedly.

The judge expressed dismay over there not being any respite in the offence despite several orders having been passed by the High Court in the interest of protecting natural resources. He said it was a matter of concern that 10 to 15 advance bail petitions get filed before the High Court alone every day by people accused of smuggling river sand.

He also pointed out that the alleged offenders use all kinds of vehicles, from bullock carts to huge multi-axle trucks, to transport the sand and, in the process, cause depletion of the groundwater table in the surrounding areas. Such smuggling had been happening despite the government taking over sand quarrying operations through the Public Works Department, he noted.

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Hoping that denial of the discretionary relief of anticipatory bail by the High Court as well as the Sessions Courts under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure might help in discouraging the sand smugglers from indulging in such offences in future, Justice Chandira directed the High Court Registry to circulate a copy of his judgment to the district courts.

The judge observed that it was the duty of the court to protect natural resources, and hence, it would be in the interest of justice to instil the fear of punishment in wrongdoers. He also recorded that Additional Public Prosecutor M. Mohamed Riyaz had strongly objected to the plea by the sand smugglers to insulate them from arrest and remand.

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