Millennium Post

SC questions Centre over functioning of screening committee in coal scam

The court was also critical of the centre for its ‘laxity’ in de-allocating coal blocks from entities which held them for long without meeting necessary clearances even as Attorney General G E Vahanvati informed it that the process of de-allocation has been put in motion.

The apex court raised questions on the working of the screening committee for considering some of private companies where were not in the list of recommendations of Central Electricity Authority (CEA) and Ministry of Power.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice R M Lodha wanted to know from Attorney General about the guidelines and parameters followed by the screening committee in coal block allocations, saying the minutes of meetings did not reflect these factors.

The bench said it was necessary for it to know the norms for allocation as there were no affidavits of the members of screening committee who were involved in the decision-making process for allocation.

‘The allegation is that allocations were made arbitrarily and it smacks of favouritism,’ the bench, also comprising justices MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph, said while making it clear that ‘decision-making process can be explained only by those who were involved in the process and not by an outsider’.

‘What appears to be for sure is that the screening committee is not accepting the broad guidelines,’ it observed while hearing the issue of allocation of coal blocks by screening committee in 2007-08 when prime minister Manmohan Singh was holding charge of the coal ministry.
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