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SC cancels 214 coal blocks

SC cancels 214 coal blocks
Highlights

The apex court said the beneficiaries of the illegal process \"must suffer\" the consequences and refused to show sympathy to private companies which submitted that Rs 2.87 lakh crore have been invested in 157 coal blocks and Rs 4 lakh crores in end-use plants.

  • No sympathy to allottees who spent lakhs of crores
  • Spares 4 blocks, allows 42 to be taken over by govt
  • Allottees given six months to wind up operations
  • Imposed a levy of `295 per tonne of coal mined

These proceedings look to the future in that by highlighting the wrong, it is expected that the Government will not deal with the natural resources that belong to the country as if they belong to a few individuals who can fritter them away at their sweet will — Supreme Court

New Delhi: In a major blow to the corporate sector, the Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed allocation of 214 out of 218 coal blocks allotted to various companies since 1993, terming it as ‘fatally flawed’ and allowed the Centre to take over operation of 42 such blocks which are functional.

The apex court said the beneficiaries of the illegal process "must suffer" the consequences and refused to show sympathy to private companies which submitted that Rs 2.87 lakh crore have been invested in 157 coal blocks and Rs 4 lakh crores in end-use plants.

Today's order will pave the way for the Centre to put the remaining 172 blocks for auction.

A bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha, however, saved from the “guillotine” four allocations–one each to SAILBSE -2.89 % and NTPCBSE 0.91 % and two blocks to Sasan Power Ltd owned by Anil Ambani’s Reliance Power–and also gave a six months breathing time to rest of them to wind up their operations by March 31, 2015.

The bench directed the allottees of coal blocks to pay within three months an additional levy of Rs 295 per metric tonne of coal extracted to compensate financial loss caused to the exchequer by the illegal and arbitrary allotments.

“Our judgement highlighted the illegality and arbitrariness in the allotment of coal blocks and these consequence proceedings are intended to correct the wrong done by the Union of India; these proceedings look to the future in that by highlighting the wrong, it is expected that the Government will not deal with the natural resources that belong to the country as if they belong to a few individuals who can fritter them away at their sweet will; these proceedings may also compensate the exchequer for the loss caused to it,” it said.

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