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SC wonders how politicians’ relatives gained in Coalgate

The controversial coal blocks allocation has now reached the Supreme Court, which on Friday, sought a reply from the centre within eight weeks that it had followed guidelines in allocating coal blocks to private firms. It also sought to know why the list of coal block allottees had a significant number of people connected with politicians.
 
While hearing a public interest litigation [PIL], a bench of Justice R M Lodha and Justice A R Dave said that the PIL raised serious questions and it required explanation from the government. The court rejected the government's contention that the court should not go into it as a Public Accounts Committee  [PAC] is already looking into the matter and  a court hearing would become a parallel investigation. The court said that the government owes an explanation on the distribution of state property.

The court said, 'There is difference in exercise done by the PAC. Parliament and PAC can proceed with the issue on the basis of the CAG report. We don't want to encroach upon their exercise but the petition raises different things altogether.'

The court's poser to the government included why competitive bidding process was not followed, what the guidelines for allocation of coal blocks were and whether there was any deviation and why so many politicians and their relatives figure among the list of alleged irregular allottees. During the course of hearing after accepting the petition by advocate M L Sharma, the court observed, 'Is it a coincidence that the relatives of politicians benefited.'

The court also rejected central government's arguement that the petition based on the CAG report was premature. The court directed the secretary of the union coal ministry to file a counter affidavit, while saying that the report of a constitutional body like the Comptroller and Auditor General [CAG] could be relied upon.

The court said that it was confining itself only to the aspect of guidelines formulated by the centre for the allocation of coal blocks.
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