A bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha has examined the allegations about alleged irregularities in the allocation of around 194 blocks without following proper guidelines. The blocks were allotted in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh to private companies and parties between 2004 and March 2011.
The bench, also comprising Justices MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph, has been monitoring the CBI probe into the scam and a special court has been set up to deal with the prosecution of cases arising out of it in which politicians and businessmen have been named as accused.
The apex court on September 14, 2012 had for the first time issued notice on the PIL filed by advocate ML Sharma and later an NGO, Common Cause, and other public spirited persons joined him in the matter which saw CBI facing tough time and government getting pulled up for alleged interference in the probe.
During the hearing, the apex court sought the details of guidelines framed by the central government for allocation of coal blocks and examined the process adopted for it. The top court will also deliver its findings whether the guidelines contain inbuilt mechanism to ensure that allocation does not lead to distribution of largesse unfairly in the hands of few private companies and those were strictly followed and whether by allocation of coal blocks, the objectives of the policy have been realised.
Lengthy arguments were also advanced as to what were the reasons for not following the policy of competitive bidding adopted by the Centre way back in 2004 for allocation of coal blocks.