New Delhi: Delhi High Court today reserved its verdict on the pleas of former Congress MP Naveen Jindal and his company JSPL challenging a Coal Ministry order which changes end-use of two coal blocks, earlier allocated to it, to power from steel and sponge iron.
“Arguments heard. Judgement reserved,” a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva said after the central government and Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) concluded their submissions.
The court also examined the ministry’s file containing the general criteria applied by a high level technical committee while dealing with 204 coal blocks whose earlier allocations were cancelled by the Supreme Court last year. It asked the government to place a copy of the file on record for the perusal of the bench while it writes its judgement.
During the day’s proceedings, which went on for more than an hour, Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi and Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain argued that the ministry changed end-use of the blocks to address the energy deficiency of the country.
They also said that clearances earlier given to the mines for a particular end-use could be made modified to meet the needs for the changed end-use, power, if so required.
They also argued that the order changing end-use has in no way prohibited JSPL from bidding in the auction as it was “only inconvenient” for them to do so. The AG also said the government has to auction all the cancelled blocks by April one.
Arguments were also advanced by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for JSPL, who reiterated his earlier stand that the government notification has to be in consonance with the 2014 Coal Ordinance.
He said the ordinance does not give priority to the power sector, but the government has done so through its December 18, 2014 order.