Ready to re-auction 218 coal blocks: Govt
Government on Monday told the Supreme Court that it \"wants re-auction of all 218 coal blocks\" declared as illegal allocation but sought its indulgence to \"exempt\" 40 of them which are functional and ready for the end use power plants.
Urges Supreme Court to save 40 blocks which are functional and ready for the end use power plants
- We have been guarded and cautious in Coalgate judgement, says SC
- Agrees to appoint 3 prosecutors to assist special public prosecutor
New Delhi: Government on Monday told the Supreme Court that it "wants re-auction of all 218 coal blocks" declared as illegal allocation but sought its indulgence to "exempt" 40 of them which are functional and ready for the end use power plants.
"Government stands by the August 25 judgement. We want re-auction of 218 coal blocks. We will be happy if we save some 40 of them which are functional or operational and ready for end use plant," Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted while making clear the stand of the Narendra Modi Government before a bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha.
However, the Attorney General said the 40 mines for which requisite clearances have been on board and are operational must not be treated with "one brush" and "can be exempted" from cancellation and re-auction, provided they meet the condition of compensating the loss of Rs 295 per tonne caused to the government and enter into a power purchase agreement at Rs 95 per tonne to make up the loss.
He said there was a need for saving 40 coal blocks from "guillotine of cancellation" as uncertainity of coal availability would affect the plants, when the country is facing acute shortage of power supply.
The Supreme Court said it delivered a "guarded" and "cautious" verdict in the coal block allocation scam by refraining to discuss the criminality of individuals associated with it as the CBI was probing that aspect.
Further, a bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha said since the matter was under investigation by the CBI, "any observation by us would have been like pre-judging the issue."
"We have been guarded and cautious because that aspect of the role of individuals is being dealt and investigated by the CBI whether anyone is involved in criminal act," the bench, also comprising justices M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph said.
The remarks were made when senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for Coal Producers Association, submitted that "there was a need for balancing the interest" while dealing with the consequences of its verdict holding as illegal the allocation of 218 coal blocks since 1993.
The Supreme Court accepted the request of special public prosecutor (SPP) R S Cheema seeking assistance of three CBI prosecutors in conducting the trial proceedings in the coal blocks allocation case.
A bench of Chief Justice R M Lodha and justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph allowed senior advocate Cheema's plea to appoint senior public prosecutors V K Sharma, Sanjay Kumar and A P Singh to assist him in the case.
The apex court on July 25 had appointed Additional Sessions Judge Bharat Parashar to preside over the Special Court set up for exclusively holding trial in cases of coal block allocation scam and named Cheema as SPP.
Meanwhile, Rohatgi said Government was not in favour of setting up of any committee comprising its retired judges as suggested by the apex court to analyse the consequences of the verdict on the allocation which has been held as illegal.
While asking the Centre to file an affidavit on its stand, the bench said, "Union is very clear that auction should take place. They are very clear that all the 218 coal blocks be put under auction".
"The allocations have been found to be altogether illegal. Therefore it (centre) wants to start from a clean slate," the bench observed.