The Supreme Court on Monday said all coal blocks allocated since 1993 to 2010 by the screening committee were illegal as they were not fair, transparent and suffered from vice of arbitrariness.
All coal block allocations since 1993 till 2010 before pre-auction era have been done in illegal manner, the SC said.
Criticising the terms of allocation of the coal blocks, the Supreme Court said they were done under the screening committee rule and the government dispensation suffers from illegality.
A bench comprising of Chief Justice R M Lodha said, no objective criteria was followed and guidelines were breached in the coal block allocation, adding that all allocations were done in illegal manner and that it suffers from vice of arbitrariness.
The bench, also comprising of Justice Madan B. Lokur, and Justice Kurian Joseph, however, stopped short of deallocating the coal blocks.
Further hearing is required to determine whether there is a need for cancelling 218 coal block allocations, the bench said and has fixed September 1 to decide the consequences of the illegality of the coal blocks.
The apex court there will be no diversion of coal for commercial exploitation from coal blocks in question till further orders.
The coal blocks were allotted mainly in Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh to private companies.
Meanwhile, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has decided to file a closure report in the coal block allocation scam involving Kumar Mangalam Birla and former Coal Secretary P C Parakh after a 10-month probe with the agency stating that they could not find any evidence in this matter.
Reacting to the Supreme Court’s ruling that all coal blocks allocated between 1993-2010 were illegal, Coal Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday said he respects the apex court’s decision and that the nation should accept the final verdict.
‘I am happy that the honourable Supreme Court announced its judgement on the coal block allocations scam. I respect it,’ the minister said.
Calling on the nation to accept the final verdict of the apex court, Goyal said he was looking forward to the finality of the coal block allocations judgement on September 1. He also said the government was ready to act quickly once the final decisions were taken by the court in the case.
Now that the Supreme Court has passed judgement on the scam, the minister said the economy could now move forward rather than being cast in the shadow of uncertainty.
The minister also added that the apex court verdict may boost the investment climate in the country by bringing in transparency in the allocation of coal blocks. While stating that the much awaited final verdict of the Supreme Court on the issue is awaited, he clarified that there will be no de-allocation of coal blocks as of now.