Coalgate: Supreme Court issues notice to Centre over coal block allocations

The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Centre on coal block allocations and has asked the govt what action it proposes to take against illegal allotments and those allottees who breached the contract.

The apex court has asked the coal secretary to file affidavit answering 6 questions on a PIL seeking cancellation of all 194 coal mine blocks under controversy.

The apex court’s posers to the government includes —

Why competitive bidding process was not followed for allocation of coal blocks?

What were the guidelines for allocation of coal blocks and whether there was any deviation during actual allocation?

Why so many politicians and their relatives figure among the alleged irregular allottees?

Whether the guidelines for allocation overlooked the safety mechanism to render the allotments as largesse in favour of private parties?

Whether govt’s objective in coal block allocation has been achieved through the present mode of allocation, which was faulted by the CAG?

The apex court has asked the coal secretary to file a response in 8 weeks.

Turning down the Centre’s plea that the court should not go into the issue as it is being looked into by a Parliamentary committee, the apex court said “these are different exercises.”

A bench of justices R M Lodha and A R Dave said the petition raised serious questions and “it requires explanation from the government”.

“There is difference in exercise done by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Parliament and PAC can proceed with the issue on the basis of the CAG report. We don’t want to encroach upon their exercise but the petition raises different things altogether. There are sufficient averments which require explanation from you,” the court said. On Thursday, the coal ministry had decided to deallocate 4 coal blocks – Bramhadih Block in Jharkhand, allocated to Castron Mining Ltd in 1996; Chinora and Warora (southern part) blocks in Maharashtra, given to Fieldmining and Ispat Ltd in 2003; Lalgarh (North) block in Jharkhand allotted to DOMCO Smokeless Fuels Pvt Ltd in 2005.

The decision to deallocate the blocks was taken after recommendation by an inter-ministerial group (IMG), headed by additional secretary (coal) Zohra Chatterji.

Courtesy: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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