Centre rebuts CBI charge,tells SC norms adhered to

The Centre has strongly refuted the CBI’s allegations in its report to the Supreme Court that no uniform policy or pattern was followed in allocating coal blocks to various entities

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published: April 25, 2013 12:29 am

The Centre has strongly refuted the CBI’s allegations in its report to the Supreme Court that no uniform policy or pattern was followed in allocating coal blocks to various entities and that several companies got blocks on “misrepresentation”.

Submitting its affidavit in response to the court’s query to explain the alleged lapses as pointed out by the CBI’s inquiry report,the Ministry of Coal has denied that the screening committee’s three meetings in question,34th,35th,36th,all held under the UPA-I regime,were tainted in any manner and that no consistent guidelines were followed.

The ministry has said the decisions were taken in these meetings after appropriate deliberation and scrutiny of all the documents and other desired materials submitted by the applicants before the screening committee.

It said the applications were processed after taking into account the recommendations by the respective state governments where mines and/or end-use plants were located and also those of the administrative ministries like Steel or Power,which were directly concerned with the mining leases. Moreover,net worth and financial strength of the applicant company was assessed before allocating any block.

The affidavit,which would be considered by a Bench led by Justice R M Lodha on April 30,said the screening committee suitably examined all the pertinent factors before according its nod for allocating a coal block to an applicant.

The Bench had on the last date said that the allotments,prima facie,seem to be arbitrary and irrational and the procedures adopted did not appear to be proper and legal. Hearing PILs by lawyer M L Sharma and NGO Common Cause,the court had relied on the CBI’s report and questioned the manner in which 1,950 applications for coal blocks were rejected while approving applications by 151 companies for 68 blocks between 2006 and 2009.

Warning that the entire allotment could be scrapped if no parameters were adopted for allotment,the court said that it would not go into individual cases but would want to know if there was a well-defined and structured policy or not.

It had wanted to know the sanctity of the screening committee and the source of power with the Centre to allot coal blocks when mineral was a state subject. Responding to this,the Ministry has stated that the screening committee was formed under a suitable legal regime of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act and the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act.

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