Explain coal allocation: SC to Centre

Explain coal allocation: SC to Centre

Explain coal allocation: SC to Centre

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to explain how coal blocks were allotted to politicians and their relatives.

Acting on a public interest litigation (PIL), a bench of justices R M Lodha and A R Dave also directed the Coal Ministry to explain why it did not go for competitive bidding, contrary to its decision in 2004.

The court told the government to reply within eight weeks as to what steps it proposed to take against allottees who flouted the terms of allocation.

“The counter affidavit would deal with the guidelines framed by the Government of India for allocation of coal blocks, the process adopted for allocation, whether the guidelines contained in-built mechanism to ensure that allocation of blocks does not lead to distribution of largesse unfairly in the hands of a few private companies,” the bench said.

Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Rohinton Nariman submitted that the petition was “premature” and relied entirely on the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, which will be looked into by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) headed by BJP MP Murali Manohar Joshi on September 20.

He wanted the petition filed by apex court advocate Manohar Lal Sharma to be dismissed, saying the CBI was already investigating the matter at the instance of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).

The court, however, was not convinced. “We always keep in view that CAG and PAC are Constitutional bodies. The CAG report is not a piece of trash. If he (petitioner) relies on the (CAG) report there is nothing constitutionally wrong, lest we are concerned with the correctness of the report. It can certainly form a basis if a particular action of executives is unconstitutional,” the Bench observed.

“It requires explanation from you. After all, it is the distribution of state property in no small way. Mines of largesse were being distributed. You may have a well-laid policy. Is it a sheer coincidence that a large number of beneficiaries were either politicians or their relatives or associates? Let us have a very objective approach,” the bench said.