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Coal block allocations ‘tainted’ and be set aside: NGO tells SC

NGO Common Cause, which is one of the petitioners in the Supreme Court in coal block allocation case, urged the Supreme Court to cancel allotments of coal blocks as the entire coal block allocation process was non-transparent, unfair and tainted with all kinds of violation of rules and procedures leading to windfall gains running into lakhs of crores of rupees to a few private firms.

Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, told a bench comprising of Justice RM Lodha, Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph that the very basis of the allotment of coal blocks without any competitive bidding process was against the doctrine of trusteeship and the Constitutional mandate under Article 14.

‘The entire process of allotment of coal blocks was non-transparent, unfair and tainted with all kinds of violation of rules and procedures. Even according to the CBI FIRs, crimes under the Prevention of Corruption Act were committed during the allotment of coal blocks. The arbitrary allocation of coal blocks resulted in a windfall gain to few private parties running into lakhs of crores ofrupees, and a corresponding loss to the public exchequer. The very basis of the allotment of the coal blocks without any competitive bidding process is against the doctrine of trusteeship and the Constitutional mandate under Article 14. Therefore, this court should set-aside the entire allocation of coal blocks to private companies,’ the NGO said in its submission.

The court is hearing final arguments on two separate PILs filed by the NGO and advocate ML Sharma.
Bhushan also referred to the reports of CAG and the parliamentary committee to prove his allegations that the corrupt practices were adopted to favour a few crony capitalists who are close to the power centre. He also said the Prime Minister and the Coal Secretary had also favoured the competitive bidding process for coal block allocations. He said that the auctioning policy was not implemented for 8 years and the coal blocks were given in hurry to private players.

‘Today an argument is being sought to be advanced in public forums by the Government ministers, private companies and their advocates, that the orders of the Supreme Court in Karnataka mining scandal, Goa mining scandal, 2G case, coal scam etc are the reason for the decline in growth rate and depreciation of the rupee.

The subtext of this argument is that plunder and loot of natural resources like coal and iron ore by a few crony capitalists with proximity to the establishment is good for the growth rate and therefore this court should allow such a state of affairs to continue. However, as has been found by experience, such a road to wealth in the hands of few companies, more often than not leads to misery and the creation of a mafia,’ the NGO said in its submission.
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