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Updated: March 13, 2013 03:06 IST

Coal blocks allocation prima facie arbitrary: court

J. Venkatesan
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday warned of cancelling the coal blocks if procedures were not followed. File photo: AP
The Supreme Court on Tuesday warned of cancelling the coal blocks if procedures were not followed. File photo: AP

Procedure adopted by government does not appear to be legal: Bench

The Supreme Court said on Tuesday that the allocation of coal blocks prima facie seemed arbitrary and the procedure the government adopted did not appear legal.

A Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha, J. Chelameswar and Madan B. Lokur also made it clear to the Centre that it had no power to allocate coal blocks to private companies and sought a legal explanation from Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati.

The Bench asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director to file an affidavit stating that he had gone through the status reports filed by the agency and no details of the probe were being shared with the political executive.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation petition filed by various members of civil society, including the former Chief Election Commissioner, N. Gopalaswami, the former Navy Chief, L. Ramdas, the former Cabinet Secretary, T.S.R. Subramanian, and advocate M.L. Sharma, seeking a probe by a Special Investigation Team into the scam.

After going through the report submitted by the CBI, the Bench warned that the allocations would be cancelled if the procedures were not followed. It asked Mr. Vahanvati how the 100-odd applicants were selected from a pool of more than 2,000.

Justice Lodha observed that no proper procedure was followed in the evaluation of the bidders. He told Mr. Vahanvati: “There are two issues: one relating to the legality of the allotments and the other relating to the criminal investigation. First, we would hear on the question of legality of allocation.”

Counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Common Cause and others, said all the allotments were illegal since the coal blocks were given away free without any auction, and for extraneous considerations.

In the status report, the CBI said the allocation during 2006-2009 was done without verification of the credentials of the companies that had allegedly misrepresented facts about themselves.

When Justice Lodha referred to the CBI report which “prima facie alleges irregularities,” the Attorney General said: “The CBI is not the final word on this.” But he said the government had no problem with the probe and wanted the court to give him a copy of the report. “I am not trying to pre-empt the inquiry. I have no problem with it. Let the CBI probe the allocation.”

Justice Lodha said: “The government should make a statement cautiously as it might affect the ongoing probe. Your comments must not prejudice the inquiry. If you are challenging the very conspiracy angle of the controversy, then it would affect the probe.”

Mr. Sharma submitted that if the allotment went against the law, it was liable to be cancelled.

Mr. Bhushan said the screening committee did not follow any criterion, nor did it give any reason for the selection either in its decision or in its minutes.

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What kinds of act are legal and what are not is just a matter of fact that who does the act. By the way, I am reading first time that the government had followed illegal procedure in allocation of coal blocks. After reading it, I am bounded to think that law makers in the parliament also follow acts that are agianst the law...However they are lawmaker of our cuntry.

from:  Ravi kumar Kannaujiya
Posted on: Mar 12, 2013 at 18:20 IST

The court also directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) not
to share information of its probe into the scam with the “political
executive” (central government).

What an expression of confidence in the integrity of the "political
executive" of the day! Only last week , Dr.Singh, with a rare and solid expression of self confidence, spoke about the 'work' and 'performance' of the government led by him and sent a message to the nation that "we will be back
again", obviously implying the formation of next government under the
congress leadership after the next general elections.It remains to be
seen whether Indian voters are waiting to fulfill the
expectations of Dr.Singh or going to demonstrate their understanding
of the potency of this particular directive of the apex court by
voting out the congress party!

from:  Shekar
Posted on: Mar 12, 2013 at 16:37 IST

It should go the same way as 2G Cancellation.

from:  Vineet Kumar Singh
Posted on: Mar 12, 2013 at 16:17 IST

What has Dr. Clean got out of this?

from:  Amarnath Wanchoo
Posted on: Jan 25, 2013 at 17:25 IST

The very fact that the rut being investigated goes as far as 1993 gives credence to the notion that mechanisms for corrupt practices were set or kept fully engaged across the party lines... as greed and credulity have no favorites.

As Supreme Court goes through this Pandora’s box (coal-gate investigation), let it unravel all of the sordid nexuses deeply entrenched within the labyrinth of our “democracy”… and book them for good. And let it rule in favor of supporting Jan Lokpal or similar constitutional frame-work to allow some resistance to incessant looting of the wealth of our nation.

Freedom from British Raj was a long and hard fought struggle… We have one cooking for long time and bigger one here at hand, for anyone who cares enough to see the bleed.

from:  Himanshu Gandhi
Posted on: Jan 25, 2013 at 07:13 IST

The legal interpretation can be right, but giving the states the right to allocate coal and other mineral resources will actually mutliply corruption, going by the iron ore scams allowed by AP, K'taka, Odisha and Goa.

from:  P. Datta
Posted on: Jan 24, 2013 at 20:36 IST

It has become the habit of ruling gentry to indulge in omissions and commissions necessitating judicial intervention and then to condemn "judicial activism".

from:  K.R.Srivarahan
Posted on: Jan 24, 2013 at 19:20 IST

That said what is the properiety of Manmohan singh to continue in office when his ministry was the one which did all these "unlawful" allocations to companies.

The secular media will keep its mouth shut on this issue.

from:  Vijay
Posted on: Jan 24, 2013 at 19:15 IST

Greater regard for practical and personal convenience rather than the
plethora of largely iniquitous laws they create has ever been the hall
mark of India's ruling (looting) elites.

from:  S. Suchindranath Aiyer
Posted on: Jan 24, 2013 at 17:48 IST
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