PTI reported that the Centre recently faced a tough time in justifying the controversial coal block allocations in the Supreme Court which fired a volley of questions seeking explanation on various issues including why bidding procedure was not followed in giving away the valuable natural resource.

A bench headed by Justice Mr RM Lodha repeatedly asked Attorney General Mr GE Vahanvati to explain whether various methods adopted for coal block allocation since 1992 had a sanction of law and under what law the screening committee was authorised to decide on allocation.

The AG, who was flanked by Solicitor General Mr Mohan Parasaran and Additional Solicitor General Mr Paras Kuhad to defend the government, assured the court that he will explain all the queries and referred to circumstances in 1992 which led to liberalized policy on coal block allocation. He submitted that there has been no violations in the allocations.

The AG said that every participative procedure involving state government was followed at each stage of policy formation and the proposal for bidding procedure was made by the PM himself.

The bench questioned why the screening committee was set up to decide coal block allocation which was earlier done by Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited, a subsidiary of Coal India Limited.

The bench, also comprising justices Mr Madan B Lokur and Mr Kurian Joseph, said that “CMPDIL was supposed to identify the coal blocks and not the screening committee. It became an extra player as its role was played by the screening committee. CMPDIL is entirely different from the committee. You must tell us what is the reason for departure from that system.”

The bench said that “We must have all booklets of CNDPIL for identifying coal blocks, how application was received by the Centre, setting up of the committee and the procedure followed by the committee.”

The AG said that “The ball is in his court” to give explanation. “There are so many balls that one gets confused.”

The bench said that “Policies might be based on prevailing circumstances at a given time. The question is whether the policy is in tune with the law. Once a policy has been framed, it must have sanction of law.”

Meanwhile, the AG will continue his submissions tomorrow. The apex court was hearing final arguments on two separate PILs filed by an NGO and advocate Mr ML Sharma respectively seeking cancellation of coal blocks allocation.

Courtesy: PTI

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