Supreme Court cancels allocation of 214 coal blocks since 1993
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed
allocation of 214 out of 218 coal blocks which were allotted to various
companies since 1993 and in which it was claimed that around Rs 2 lakh crore
A bench, headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha, saved only
four blocks-one belonging to NTPC and SAIL each and two allocated to Ultra Mega
Power Projects from being cancelled. The bench, also comprising justices Madan
B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, granted six months breathing time to mining
companies to wind up their operations in the coal blocks.
The bench also directed the companies, which were
allocated coal blocks but had not operationalised them, to pay a compensation
to the government for the loss of exchequer. It accepted the findings of the
CAG which came to the conclusion that the loss of Rs 295 per tonne was caused
due to the non-operation of the mines.
The apex court also noticed the stand taken by the NDA
government that it is "fully prepared to face socio-economic impact"
if the coal block allocations were cancelled.
During the earlier hearing in the case, the UPA govt
had opposed cancellation of coal blocks allocation saying that around Rs 2-lakh
crore had been invested by various companies after blocks were allotted to
The apex court had on August 25 held that all coal
blocks allocation since 1993 by various regimes at the Centre have been made
illegally and arbitrarily.
The apex court, which had used almost all terms to
condemn the procedures adopted by 36 screening committee meetings since 1993,
however, had stopped short of cancelling them saying, "what should be the
consequences, is the issue which remains to be tackled."
The apex court, which examined the allocation of 218
blocks in pre-auction era till 2010, had held that they were done in an illegal
manner by an 'ad-hoc and casual' approach 'without application of mind' and “Common
good and public interest have, thus, suffered heavily' due to lack of fair and
transparent procedure resulting in ‘unfair distribution’ of the ‘national
wealth’- coal- 'which is king and paramount Lord of industry.”
“To sum up, the entire allocation of coal block as per
recommendations made by the Screening Committee from July 14, 1993 in 36
meetings and the allocation through the government dispensation route suffers
from the vice of arbitrariness and legal flaws.
“The Screening Committee has never been consistent, it
has not been transparent, there is no proper application of mind, it has acted
on no material in many cases, relevant factors have seldom been its guiding
factors, there was no transparency and guidelines have seldom guided it,” the
bench had said in its 163-page verdict.