SC questions govt on coal blocks allotment, strongly defends CAG
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The Supreme Court asked the Centre on Friday to explain if guidelines for distributing the coal "mines of largesse" had been strictly followed. The court questioned the "coincidence" that several blocks were secured by "politicians, their associates and a few private companies".
A bench of Justices R M Lodha and A R Dave directed the coal ministry secretary to file an affidavit explaining the allotments, and the reasons for not adopting the 2004 policy of competitive bidding.
The judges dismissed the Centre's objections to the Comptroller and Auditor General report on the alleged irregularities in the allotments. The CAG is a "constitutional authority" and its report is "not a piece of trash", the court said.
"Issues require explanation from you. After all, it is not distribution of a state property in a small way. These are mines of largesse and rightly described by the petitioner, not just tonnes of largesse, being distributed," the bench said. "You may have well laid down policy but was it implemented? Is it a sheer coincidence that a large number of beneficiaries were either politicians or their relatives or associates? Let us have a very objective approach. We intend to concentrate on allocation."
The court turned down Solicitor General Rohinton Nariman's contention that the petition was "premature" since it relied on the CAG report, which is due to be considered by Parliament's Public Accounts Committee from September 20.
"Keep in mind that the CAG has its own value. There is nothing wrong in relying on its report...," the court said.
The court sought a response from the government in eight weeks.
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