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Delhi HC reserves verdict on pleas against clubbing end-use of mines

Delhi High Court on Monday reserved its verdict on the pleas of three iron and steel companies challenging the Coal Ministry's decision to club all sectors, barring power, under a single category for coal block auctions. “Arguments heard. Judgement reserved,” a bench of justices B D Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva said on the pleas of Utkal Coal Ltd, Monnet Ispat and Energy Ltd and Jayaswal Neco Industries Ltd (JNIL).

The three companies have contended that due to “wrong” classification, core sectors like iron and steel, which are to be protected as per 2014 coal ordinance, were losing out to aluminium companies in the auction. They have argued that the Centre's decision to club all end-uses, except power, under 'non-regulated sector' has led to a “skewed” bidding process in which unequals are competing with each other for mines.

They also said 'non-regulated sector' was not a specified end-use under the ordinance. On the other hand, Hindalco, which successfully bid for and won the Gare Palma IV/5 mine in Chhattisgarh for which Monnet was vying, said the companies were seeking “reservation” in the allocation of coal blocks.

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