The Centre on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking transfer of five petitions pending before three high courts challenging the provisions of the coal ordinance and the standard tender document. The companies have alleged the ordinance and tender document for auction of coal blocks are “arbitrary and unconstitutional.”
Besides, the government has also challenged Madhya Pradesh HC’s order that 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 hearing on February 12.
Transfer of the petitions – one by Sova Ispat in Calcutta HC, two by Jindal Steel & Power’s in the Delhi HC and two filed by BLA Power’s in the Madhya Pradesh HC – is sought on the ground that questions of law in all “pending petitions are similar.”
Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi told a bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu that cases are being filed all over the country before HCs challenging the constitutional validity of provisions of the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Ordinance 2014, the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Rules 2014 and standard tender document for auction, thus thwarting the auction process of coal.
“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 the ordinance, rules and tender document by means of writ petitions before different HCs, which require adjudication and authoritative pronouncement” by the Supreme Court, the transfer petition stated, adding differing orders being passed by HCs would lead to a complex situation crippling the auction which has to be completed before March 31 as per SC’s directions.
In another petition against the MP HC’s order, the government said the HC had erroneously entertained the writ petition filed by BLA Power at the behest of its sister concern M/s BLA Industries whose coal block stood cancelled by the SC and was liable to pay the additional levy at Rs 295 per tonne in terms of the SC decision.