The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its order to decide the fate of 218 coal block allocations held as illegal by it with the Centre advocating their cancellation while allocatees blamed the government for irregularities and demanded setting up of a committee to go into each of the allocation.
The Coal Producers Association, Sponge Iron Manufacturers Association and Independent Power Producers Association of India and some private entities opposed the stand of the Government for not favouring the constitution of any committee to look into consequences of the August 25 judgement.
They deprecated the Centre’s stand that “cancellation of coal block allocation is a natural consequence of the judgement” by saying that it would lead to total disaster and ultimate suffering for man on street and rural population, already facing power crisis.
Senior advocates K K Venuogopal, Harish Salve and others submitted that the Centre was projecting itself as an innocent party which itself has misled the apex court on the contentious issue.
However, a bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha said “Government is only articulating its position” and it would “not be a fair way” of dealing with the matter as “screening committee meetings speak for themselves that no procedure was followed”.
“The fact of the matter is they (Govt) want to proceed with a clean slate,” the bench, also comprising justices M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph said and referred to the submission of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that cancellation of 218 coal block allocations was the natural consequence of the judgement but retention of 40 coal producing blocks and six ready for operation should be considered.
“Government understands all aspects. Government understands about the darkness. It looks at every corner of the country. Everything is visible to the government. They have full confidence,” the bench said before reserving the order.
The final submission of the day-long hearing came from Rohatgi who said, “we have applied our mind to all types of situation and according to us when there is a mass irregularity the impact would be on everybody and I am not here to say who is wrong and who is not.”
“I am for cancellation but only pocket that can be saved is 40 productional blocks and six which are ready for production,” he said after which the bench concluded the hearing.
However, before concluding the arguments, the bench said, “it has not examined the decision of allocation but the decision-making process”.
“We are not concerned whether You (govt) have done wrong or not by we are concerned with the wrong process,” it said adding that “we are not forcing the executive to take a particular line”.