Millennium Post

HC dismisses pleas against clubbing end-use of coal mines

Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed the pleas of some private companies challenging Coal Ministry’s decision to club all sectors, barring power, under a single category for coal block auctions, observing that these firms had participated in the tender process which was known to them.

However, a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva also said that clubbing of different specified end-uses together “runs counter” to the logic of the classification itself.

Dealing with the issue of categorisation by the government through its December 18, 2014 order, the bench said, “in our view, the specified end-uses could not be clubbed together. Each coal mine had to be classified for a specific end-use.” 

The bench observed this while dismissing a separate plea of Monnet Ispat and Energy Ltd. Besides Monnet Ispat and Energy Ltd, three other firms –Utkal Coal Ltd, Jayaswal Neco Industries Ltd and Bhushan Power and Steel Ltd –had approached the court on various issues pertaining to the government’s decision on coal block auction.

The firms had argued that the decision to club all end- uses, except power, under ‘non-regulated sector’ has led to a “skewed” bidding process in which unequals were competing with each other for mines.

In its judgement, the court observed that these firms had participated in the tender process. Regarding the contentions advanced by Monnet Ispat about coal mine at Gare Palma IV/5, the court said the auction of the mine, in which Hindalco Industries was the successful bidder, cannot be interfered with as the petitioner had participated in the tender process and had even succeeded in respect of Gare Palma IV/7. 
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