Seeks court indulgence to ‘save’ 40 of them from re-auction
The Government told the Supreme Court that it “wants re-auction of all 218 coal blocks” declared as illegal allocation but sought its indulgence to “exempt” 40 of them which are functional and ready for the end use power plants. “The Government stands by the August 25 judgement. We want re-auction of 218 coal blocks. We will be happy if we save some 40 of them which are functional or operational and ready for end use plant,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted while making clear the stand of the Narendra Modi Government before a bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha on Monday.
However, the Attorney General said the 40 mines for which requisite clearances have been on board and are operational must not be treated with “one brush” and “can be exempted” from cancellation and re-auction, provided they meet the condition of compensating the loss of Rs 295 per tonne caused to the government and enter into a power purchase agreement at Rs 95 per tonne to make up the loss.
He said there was a need for saving 40 coal blocks from “guillotine of cancellation” as uncertainty of coal availability would affect the plants, when the country is facing acute shortage of power supply.
Rohatgi said the Government was not in favour of setting up of any committee comprising retired judges as suggested by the apex court to analyse the consequences of the verdict on the allocation which has been held as illegal. “We don’t want any committee. If it has to go, all (coal block allocations) must go. My thought is the Government view,” Rohatgi told the bench, also comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph. While asking the Centre to file an affidavit on its stand, the bench said, “Union is very clear that auction should take place. They are very clear that all the 218 coal blocks be put under auction”. “The allocations have been found to be altogether illegal. Therefore it (centre) wants to start from a clean slate,” the bench observed.
During the hearing, Rohatgi said like the 40 operational mines, there are six others which are “absolutely in readiness” to be operational for end use plant and if the verdict has to be strictly followed “all have to be cancelled with one stroke of brush”.
The apex court’s hearing revolved around the assumptions and submissions by PIL petitioners – NGO, Common Cause, through advocate Prashant Bhushan, and lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma – that since there was no transparency in the allocation of coal blocks from 1993 to 2010 and have been held as illegal, that natural outcome would be the cancellation of all 218 coal blocks allocation.
The apex court posted the matter for next hearing on September 9 by asking Centre, the three Associations — Coal Producers Association, Sponge Iron Manufacturers Association and Independent Power Producers Association of India – and petitioners to file their affidavits.
Lens on 2G scam paper leak
New Delhi: The CBI has begun an internal inquiry to probe leakage of classified documents in connection with the 2G spectrum allocation case as the agency finalised its counter arguments in the Supreme Court for Tuesday over charges levelled by an NGO that the agency’s Director Ranjit Sinha was delaying trial in the scam. Ahead of the hearing on Tuesday, a series of meetings was held with the counsel representing CBI in the apex court where the agency will impress upon alleged twisting of facts by the counsel of the NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, Prashant Bhushan, official sources said.