SC sets aside order on Ardhagram mine litigation disclosure

The judgment comes ahead of the Ardhagram mine’s auction, scheduled for February 14

In a relief to the government, the Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside a Calcutta High Court order that asked it to disclose in the coal auction notice a pending litigation with West Bengal-based Sova Ispat  (SIL) over auction of a coal block (Ardhagram mine) attached to the company’s operational steel plant in the state. The HC had also ordered that the auction conducted by the government in respect of the Ardhagram block be subject to the result of a petition filed by the company before it.

The petition filed jointly by the ministry of coal and law had expressed apprehensions that if the auction notice were to contain endorsement that the matter is sub-judice, it would hamper the auction process and make it unworkable.

A bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar while quashing the HC order took into consideration Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s undertaking that the government would not be acquiring the end-use plants attached to mines whose mining rights were scrapped by the apex court last September. The court’s judgment comes ahead of the auction of the Ardhagram mine scheduled for February 14.

Counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Sova Ispat, contended that it had invested Rs 400 crore for the infrastructure to go with the mine and the coal mines ordinance promulgated by the government has no provision for compensation for end-use plants attached to the blocks and that it purports to take away the end-use plants without providing any compensation.

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