New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a plea to cap the quantity of coal that can be extracted by 42 companies that it allowed to continue mining for six months even while canceling allotment of their coal blocks.

Delhi-based lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma, whose petition was among those that led to cancellation of all coal block allocations since 1993, had moved the apex court to restrain excessive mining by these companies, post the cancellation of licences last month.

Sharma appeared in person before the bench headed by chief justice H L Dattu and  pleaded that these companies were extracting coal far above their requirements and selling it for commercial gains. Hence a quota should be fixed to prevent them from taking undue advantage of the court’s verdict.

The bench, which also included justices Madan B. Lokur and A.K. Sikri, however, rejected his plea, and pointed out that the court can’t revise the verdict that puts no cap on the coal extraction by these lease holders.

“Nobody said that they will not extract the coal. Nowhere it was said that coal extraction would be 100 tonnes, 200 tonnes or 1,000 tonnes….They had the leases. Today we have cancelled them. But in the meanwhile they have been given time till six months to continue with their operations,” the Chief Justice said, noting that there is no reason for the court to intervene.

And while canceling all 214 coal blocks allotted since 1993 in its judgment on September 24, the apex court had also quashed allotment of 42 that were in operation or at the stage of commencement of operations. However, there was a rider that the cancellation would take place from the end of the current fiscal year, and it would give adequate time to the government and Coal India Limited, “to adjust to the changed situation and move forward.”

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