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SC reserves order on coal blocks cancellation

India Blooms News Service | | 09 Sep 2014, 05:42 pm
New Delhi, Sept 9 (IBNS): The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its order on cancellation of 218 coal blocks which it has termed illegal earlier.

Though the court concluded the hearing process, the bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha said that the verdict will be pronounced at a later date.

Till then the fate of the coal blocks allocations since 1993 remained to hang in balance, with the option of being scrapped altogether.

The Centre has said it favours the cancellation of coal blocks allocations which were declared as illegal by the Supreme Court.

In sum and substance, cancellation of coal block allocation is a natural consequence, the Centre told the Supreme Court.

But it has also maintained that the retention of 46 blocks which are in operation or will be operational soon should be considered.

As a matter of fact, on 1 September, the Centre through Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the top court to spare some 46 blocks out of 218 blocks which it termed illegal, since it is needed for power given the critical power situation in the country.

Urging the court to take quick decision on the matter AG also said that the government is open to re-auctioning the coal blocks if their allocations are revoked.

The Centre has pleaded with the court not to cancel allocation without hearing companies who were allocated coal blocks.

Earlier, Coal & Power Minister Piyush Goyal had welcomed the Supreme Court verdict which quashed all coal block allocations from 1993.

Reacting on the issue, Goyal told reporters that the verdict will not only put the dispute to rest but will also boost the economy as well.

He said, "The judgement has brought to finality and closure a dispute that has been going on for such a long time is a big plus for the economy." 

Goyal asserted that the SC verdict has virtually sealed the policy of his Government on bringing clarity and transparency in policy for which PM Narendra Modi is famous.

The SC on Aug 25 quashed all allocations of coal blocks since 1993 to 2010, delivering a historic judgement on the coal scam after hearing petitions seeking the scrapping of allocations.

The top Court has nullified all allocations whether through screening committee or through other means that took place till 2009 terming them as illegal and arbitrary. 

It also held that "no State Government or public sector undertakings of the state governments are eligible for mining coal for commercial use".

The top court also suggested to set up a committee headed by a retired Supreme Court judge to examine what should be done for the re-allocation of these coal blocks.

The coal scam had sprung into headlines after the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) report on coal block allocation estimated a loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to the national exchequer owing to irregular allocations.

The CAG named 25 private companies as beneficiaries of coal block allocations in various states.

They included companies like Essar Power, Hindalco, Tata Power, Tata Steel and Jindal Steel and Power Ltd.

The allocations date back to the time when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was holding the portfolio.