Centre to clarify stand on cancelling coal blocks

Centre to clarify stand on cancelling coal blocks

The Centre today told the Supreme Court that it would make its stand clear next week on cancelling coal blocks allocation to private companies after 2005.

Attorney General G E Vahanvati told the court that he has suggested cancellation of all post-2005 coal block allocation where licenses had not yet been granted and he will inform about government's stand next week.

He further submitted that allocation letter is not bankable and it does not create any right in favour of any company.

The Attorney General's submission prompted a bench, headed by Justice R M Lodha, to question why the Centre is not cancelling the licenses when no right is created on the coal blocks only by allocation.

"So why are you not cancelling? You should not have taken so long when it (grant of allocation) cannot be legally enforceable and can't lead to the issuance of writ of mandamus," the bench, also comprising justice M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, said.

"How long will you wait"? the bench said on the issue of 30 coal blocks allocated to private parties.

Vahanvati  told the court that he had given his opinion to the government but it was for the Centre to accept it or reject it.

The AG had in September 2013 submitted that coal blocks allocation was merely a letter of intent and does not confer any right to the companies over the natural resource which is decided by the state government.

The Centre's stand was opposed by all the seven mining states which had submitted that they had a minimal role in the allocation which is controlled and regulated by the Centre.

The Attorney General said state governments' stand was not correct that they had minimal role after allocation and they have to mechanically follow the steps ahead. 

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