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Will withdraw Odisha coal mine from auction: Centre to HC

Will withdraw Odisha coal mine from auction: Centre to HC
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This decision was conveyed to the court after a bench of justices B D Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva suggested postponing of the auction of the mine or its withdrawal from the auction process to allow the court enough time to decide on the contentions raised by the company.

Bhushan, along with Utkal Coal Ltd, Monnet Ispat and Energy Ltd as well as Jayaswal Neco Industries
Ltd (JNIL), have challenged the Coal Ministry’s decision to club all other sectors, except power, under one category for the coal mines auction.

The bench said as a result of the withdrawal of the block, Bhushan’s petition has become infructuous and “is disposed of”.

The pleas of Utkal, Monnet and JNIL were listed by the court for further hearing on March 25, as the blocks in which the companies were interested in have already been auctioned.

The court also issued notice to the Coal Ministry and Ambuja Cement on JNIL’s plea seeking their response before the next date of hearing.

Ambuja was the successful bidder for the coal mine, Gare Palma IV/8 in Chhattisgarh for which JNIL had also put in its bid.

The court sought counter affidavits from the Ministry on the pleas of Utkal and Monnet.

During the brief hearing, it expressed surprise that despite India having the fourth largest coal reserve in the world, the industries in the country were importing coal from outside for “no rhyme or reason”.

The court made the observation after Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain said import of coal is inevitable and every industry is currently importing the mineral.

During the proceedings, the court also asked the government about the objective of the coal ordinance -- whether it was for maximisation of revenue or proper allocation of coal blocks or both.
“Whether objective under the ordinance is to have optimum allocation of scarce resources, or is it sale of the scarce resources for the maximum possible revenue or both. If both, then which of the two comes first?  “Address us on this issue, so that we have a clear stand of the government,” it said to the ASG as also to the central government standing counsel Akshay Makhija, who were appearing for the Ministry.

The companies in their respective pleas have challenged auction rules of two-stage bidding in which 50 per cent of the players are eliminated in round one, besides multiple bidding by a company.

Sanction to prosecute govt servants awaited: says CBI

The CBI on Thursday told a special court that it was awaiting response of the competent authority on the issue of considering according sanction to prosecute public servants allegedly involved in a coalscam case relating to allocation of blocks to Navbharat Power Pvt Ltd. The investigating officer said that they have sent relevant records of the case to the competent authority. “It has been submitted that the necessary record has been submitted to the competent authority for considering according of sanction to prosecute the public servants and the same is still awaited,” Special
CBI Judge Bharat Parashar said.
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