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Coal block allocations 'tainted' and be set aside: NGO to SC

Press Trust of India
Sep 12, 2013 at 08:18pm IST

New Delhi: The entire coal block allocation process was "non-transparent, unfair and tainted" leading to windfall gains running into lakhs of crores of rupees to a few private firms and the allotments be cancelled, an NGO on Thursday told the Supreme Court.

The very basis of the allotment of coal blocks without any competitive bidding process was against the doctrine of trusteeship and the Constitutional mandate under Article 14, advocate Prashant Bhushan told a bench headed by Justice RM Lodha.

Seeking setting aside of the entire allocation of coal blocks to private parties, the lawyer, appearing on behalf of NGO Common Cause, said "the entire process of allotment of coal blocks was non-transparent, unfair and tainted with all kinds of violation of rules and procedures. "Even according to CBI FIRs, crimes under the Prevention of Corruption Act were committed during the allotment of coal blocks.

Coal block allocations 'tainted' and be set aside: NGO to SC

Coal block allocations 'tainted' and be set aside: NGO to SC

The arbitrary allocation of coal blocks resulted in a windfall gain to a few private parties running into lakhs of crores of rupees and a corresponding loss to the public exchequer", he said.

The bench, also comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, is hearing final arguments on two separate PILs filed by the NGO and advocate M L Sharma respectively. Bhushan, in his day-long arguments, also referred to the reports of CAG and the parliamentary committee seeking to drive home his allegations that the corrupt practices were adopted to favour a few "crony capitalists" who are close to the power centre.

He also said the Prime Minister and the Coal Secretary had also favoured the competetive bidding process for coal block allocations. The auctioning policy was not implemented for 8 years and the coal blocks were given in hurry to private players, he said.

"Instead of acting on the categorical stand of the Coal Secretary in favour of competitive bidding, the government delayed its introduction for 8 years till February 2012.... "With the proposed introduction of competitive bidding pending, this led to a huge rush for the coal blocks under the old allotment system, and the government allotted as many as 142 coal blocks between 2004 to 2009, with billions of tonnes of coal," the written submisison submitted by Bhushan said.

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