In a reply to the Supreme Court, the union coal ministry plans to assert its right to allocate coal blocks under legislations like Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, Coal Bearing Areas Acquisition & Development Act.
It may be recalled that the apex court recently questioned the centre’s authority to allocate coal blocks during the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) regarding 'coalgate'.
The court observed that the existing policy (where coal blocks are “allocated” by the centre while mining leases are granted by states concerned) gave no choice to states as they have to grant mining leases to whoever is allocated the block by the centre. It felt that the centre has a lot of “legal explanation” to do as the statutory Act empowers only the states to undertake the task of allocation (licensing).
Union Coal secretary SK Srivastava is quoted as saying that the centre would present its case before the apex court on March 12 and say that coal being a nationalised sector.
The government would claim that the centre derives power to allocate coal blocks from various acts such as Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, Coal Bearing Areas Acquisition & Development Act. However, the attorney general would go into the details of the existing provisions before finalising our reply.
Srivastava said that the court has just made an observation and the ministry is confident that it has sufficient grounds to prove its point.