SC questions governmentís power to allocate coal blocks
The top court said despite the fact that the Centre had already allocated more than 200 captive coal blocks to public and private sector companies, it is planning to allocate more. While the Centre allocates the blocks, mining leases are being granted by the concerned states, subject to the condition that Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act and and Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act (MMDR)1957 must be complied with.
Comprehensive amendments to the MMDR Act is under Parliament's consideration which, among other things, will do away with the need to obtain prior approval of the Centre, except in the case of coal and atomic minerals for mining rights, even as the licensing and leasing powers are vested with the states.
The apex court said that the Centre cannot undermine the MMDR Act, which has given no power to it to allocate coal block to companies.
A bench of Justices RM Lodha and J Chelameswar asked the government to go through other legislations, particularly the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, to find out whether it is empowered to allocate the resources.
The bench was hearing a PIL filed by advocate ML Sharma and various members of civil society including former CEC N Gopalaswami, ex-Navy chief L Ramdas and former Cabinet secretary TSR
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