A bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha has examined the allegations about alleged irregularities in the allocation of around 194 coal blocks without following proper guidelines.
The coal blocks were alloted in Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh to private companies and parties bewteen 2004 to March 2011. The bench, also comprising justices MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph has been monitoring the CBI probe into the scam and special court has been set up to exclusively 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.
Further, the apex court would give its findings about the steps taken or are proposed to be taken against the allottees who have not adhered to the terms of allotment or breached the terms thereof.
It had rejected the contention that the petition based on the CAG report was "premature" as the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was then slated to examine about the correctness of allocation.
When the petition was filed in 2012, it was alleged that that the CAG has estimated a huge loss of about Rs 1.64 lakhs crores to the country in the allocation of coal blocks.