Coal mining in Madhya Pradesh: SC pulls up Centre for listing valid firm with those in errant list
The Supreme Court has pulled up the Center for wrongly including the name of a coal mining company holding a valid license for mining coal in Madhya Pradesh. To deal with the coal block allocation scam in 2014.
A bench of Chief Justice of India N V Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hema Kohli imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on the government for “this harsh, reckless and casual approach”, causing “the petitioner (BLA Industries Pvt Ltd) to fell. suffer loss and humiliation.”
The court, which had gone through the allotment process in its August 17 judgment, also observed that “the mining lease granted in favour of the petitioner was not maliciously tainted as was the case with other allottees”.
The bench said, “The State Government had made a diligent exercise to examine the application of the petitioner before recommending its case to the UOI (Union of India) for grant of mining lease”, and “on the said recommendations Established, UOI” was issued to the petitioner allotting the coal block and not the other way around.
Writing for the Bench, Justice Kohli observed: “Here is a case where a private party, before investing a large sum of money in carrying on a business, complied with all the rules and regulations, which may be applicable. The facts of the case are It appears from the UOI that it was not following the letter of the law. But ultimately it was the private party which had to bear the consequences of the reckless and harsh attitude of the UOI.”
“To mitigate the distress of the petitioner, the UOI filed an affidavit before this Court, in which the petitioner was included in the list of wrongful mine owners on the ground of his unlawful conduct. He did not take the necessary precautions to determine whether the mine was allotted as part of the process.
Deciding on petitions praying for cancellation of allocation of coal blocks to private companies made by the Center between 1993 and 2011, A three-judge bench of the SC on August 25, 2014, held that the coal block allocation exercise was neither related to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 nor the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973. , and that the practice and procedure adopted by the Government for allotment of coal blocks to the beneficiaries through the Screening Committee, was inconsistent with the existing law already framed and rules framed.
Consequently, the court declared that the entire allocation of coal blocks, as per the recommendations made by the Screening Committee constituted by the Center with effect from July 14, 1993, and through the Government distribution route after 1993, was arbitrary and illegal.
The consequences of the illegal allotment were the subject of a subsequent Supreme Court judgment on September 23, 2014, given in the same case. “The court has divided the coal block allocation into two categories based on the documents submitted by the UOI,” the court said.
“The first category was of allotments other than those… in Annexure-I and Annexure-II by the UOI, filed by it. The second category comprises the 46 coal blocks mentioned in Annexure-I and Annex-II which could be “saved” from cancellation if certain terms and conditions are implemented. The first category of allotment was quashed by the Court as completely illegal and arbitrary…. Out of 46 coal blocks mentioned in Annexure-I and Annex-II, 42 coal blocks were cancelled and a grace period of six months was given for the said cancellation to take effect.
The coal blocks allotted to the petitioner firm are among the four whose allotment was not cancelled, but they were ordered to pay Rs 295 per metric ton of coal already extracted as a compensatory payment for any loss.
The SC judgment also said that during the hearing of the matter, it was informed that the coal blocks in question allocated to the petitioner had already been allocated to a third party.