New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Vedanta Ltd to approach the additional city civil and sessions judge and special judge for CBI cases at Bangalore for release of 34,544 metric tonnes of iron ore.

Vedanta will have to establish its existence and ownership to rebut allegations of illegal mining over the same.

In doing so, a bench headed by Justice A.K. Sikri set aside a ruling of the Karnataka high court that had allowed the release of iron ore to Vedanta.

It was noted that the high court while allowing the plea for release of iron ore had only relied on acceptance of the final report by the CBI judge dated 15 December, 2015.

The court was ruling on a plea by the state of Karnataka challenging a July 2017 order of the Karnataka high court allowing the release of 34,544 metric tonne of iron ore to Vedanta. The said iron ore was earlier seized on allegations of illegal mining against Vedanta.

On 4 July, 2017, the Karnataka high court, in the wake of a final report submitted by a special investigation team (SIT) set up by the Karnataka govt to look into the issue which did not find any impediment to release the iron ore in favour of Vedanta, had ordered its immediate release.

The apex court on 7 September, 2012 had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate into the illegal extraction and export of iron ore to other countries.

By a subsequent order of 16 September, 2013, the apex court permitted the CBI to refer the matter to the state government, and simultaneously directed it to take further necessary action in cases where the exporters had exported less than 50,000 metric tonnes without valid permits.

Accordingly, a SIT was appointed by the state of Karnataka, which submitted its final report on 8 October, 2015, found to be in favour of Vedanta.

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