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Centre wants all cases against coal ordinance transferred to Supreme Court

Government said legal challenges of various provisions of coal mines ordinance were thwarting auction process of coal blocks.

Coal India, the world's biggest coal miner which accounts for about 80 per cent of India's output. (Reuters) Coal India, the world’s biggest coal miner which accounts for about 80 per cent of India’s output. (Reuters)

In order to avert what it described as a “complex situation” that could impact the auction process, the Centre Monday moved the Supreme Court with a plea to get all the cases, pending before various high courts against the coal ordinance, transferred to the apex court.

“The cases involve the same questions of law and are substantial questions of general importance in as much as challenged the constitutional validity of the provisions of ordinance, rules and tender document by means of various writ petitions before different high courts, which require adjudication and authoritative pronouncement,” said the government while seeking transfer of five cases pending in three HCs.

Of the five petitions, two petitions each have been filed by Jindal Steel & Power Ltd and BLA Power in the Delhi High Court and Madhya Pradesh High Court respectively, while a petition by Sova Ispat Ltd is pending before the Calcutta High Court.

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“It will be in the interest of justice that this Hon’ble Court adjudicate upon the common question of law arising due to challenge to the provisions of the ordinance, rules and auction process… different orders being passed by high courts, leading to a complex situation crippling the auction process which has to be completed before March 31, 2015, as ordered by this Hon’ble court,” stated the transfer petition.

The government said that the legal challenges to the constitutional validity of various provisions of the coal mines ordinance were thwarting the auction process of coal blocks and it would be in the fitness of things to urge the Supreme Court to deliver an authoritative pronouncement and put to controversy to rest.

Early in the day, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi mentioned a similar matter before a bench led by Chief Justice H L Dattu and pointed out that matters were being entertained by various high courts even as the government was making attempts to complete the auction process within the stipulated time.

Rohatgi mentioned the Centre’s appeal against an order by the Madhya Pradesh High Court, which allowed BLA power to participate in the auction process of Gotitioria East and Gotitoria West Coal Mines and restrained the Centre from taking any final decision till the next date of hearing on February 12.

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Rohatgi submitted that the petition filed by the BLA Power could not have been admitted by the High Court since its sister concern M/s BLA Industries Ltd had failed to deposit the additional levy of Rs 295 per metric tonne in terms of the SC decision after cancellation of the block.

The bench said it would hear the matter later this week.

GVK Power moves HC

By: Aneesha Mathur

GVK Power Ltd on Monday approached the Delhi High court to challenge provisions of the 2014 coal ordinance on the grounds that it was aggrieved at the “arbitrary” determination of compensation for its mining infrastructure which was much lower than it expected.

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In a decision on February 1, the Centre had added a provision to the ordinance that the compensation to be paid by the new successful bidders to the previous allottees for the mining infrastructure would be a “subject to revision ordered by a court”.

In brief submissions before a bench of Justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva, senior advocate P Chidambaram argued that the revision had the effect of changing the possible capital costs of the bid. “The bidding parameter is only the price per tonne, you can’t bid without knowing what the capital costs would be. They have amended saying that the potential bidder may have to pay enhanced compensation,” argued Chidambaram.

The court agreed to hear the case on Tuesday morning, after the senior lawyer stated that according to the information available on the website, the bidding process is scheduled to commence at noon on Tuesday.

First published on: 03-02-2015 at 04:18:01 am
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