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New Delhi: The Supreme Court yesterday said the allocation of coal blocks prima facie seemed to be arbitrary and the procedure adopted by the government does not appear to be legal. It warned of cancelling the blocks if procedures were not followed.
The court directed the CBI not to share information of its probe into the scam with the “political executive” (central government). The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has estimated a loss of billions to the exchequer in the controversial allocation of coal blocks by the government.
“If even among them (applicants for the coal blocks)... they (government) have not followed any guidelines or procedures and a, b, c was allocated and d, e, f, was excluded then the whole allocation has to go,” said an apex court bench of Justice R M Lodha, Justice J Chelameswar and Justice Madan B Lokur.
The court said this while hearing a public interest litigation by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma and NGO Common Cause, seeking cancellation of all the coal blocks which have been negatively commented upon by the CAG.
“The procedure the government is talking about prima facie does not seem to be proper and legal,” said Justice Lodha.
Pointing out that from
2006-09 the government received 2,100 applications out of which 160 applicants were allocated 368 coal blocks, the court asked “in what circumstances 950 were not found to be eligible”.
The court inquired if a “well-defined and well-structured policy was there on the basis of which applications were scrutinised”. “Even in small selections there are guidelines, short listing and the scrutiny of the application before a decision is made,” the court said inquiring if the same were followed by the government in the allocation of coal blocks.
The court pointed out that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) report said that there was no system to verify the credentials of the companies that had applied for coal blocks including their financial standing. IANS