Apex court rejects petition against coal auction ordinance

Apex court rejects petition against coal auction ordinance

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed pleas made against the ordinance allowing the auction of coal mines across the country.

A three-judge bench presided by Justice Madan B Lokur also rejected separate pleas of three private firms, including Jindal Steel Ltd and Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, seeking an extension of time to pay the penalty for alleged illegal mining from the deadline of December 31.

The firms had also prayed that they be allowed to participate in the auction process without paying the penalty by December end.

The petitioners claimed that one of the clauses of the recent ordinance barred a firm from taking part in the auction process if it did not pay the penalty within the stipulated time. The bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and A K Sikri, rejected the requests after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre opposed the plea as “misconceived”.

At the outset, senior advocates P Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of Mumbai-based BLA Industries Pvt Ltd, sought exclusion of the firm from the ambit of the Supreme Court's September 24 judgement, claiming the firm was allocated coal blocks before the screening committee came into existence.

The court had quashed allocation of 214 out of 218 coal blocks alloted to various companies since 1993, terming it as “fatally flawed” and allowed the Centre to take over operation of 42 such blocks which are functional.

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