Explain coal blocks allocation method: SC

New Delhi, July 10 (IANS) Pointing to "deficiencies", the Supreme Court Wednesday directed the central government to file an affidavit, along with supporting material, explaining the procedure adopted for the allocation of 164 coal blocks.

There was nothing on record and the screening committee which gave away the blocks went by subjective considerations, the court said, referring to "infirmities" in the process.

An apex court bench of Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph gave the direction after perusing a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) status report about the on-going investigation into the coal blocks allocation.

The court said that "records are not available, detail minutes are not available, recommendations of the state government were changed midway and (in some cases allocations were made) against the recommendations of the state government".

In the report, the probe agency said the procedure adopted by the coal ministry and the screening committee for allocation of the coal blocks was arbitrary.

The CBI in its report, extracts of which were read in the court, said there was no material about the decision-making process and the minutes were either not maintained or were sketchy.

Saying that "there is nothing on record (on the allocation of coal blocks) ... the CBI is struggling", Justice Lodha read from the status report which said "no system is in place to scrutinise the application, minutes are non-speaking and sketchy...."

The court noted that there was no system of obtaining document.

The allocations were made even in the absence of the recommendation by the State government and decisions on allocations were changed midway, the judges said.

Referring to the "deficiencies" and "infirmities" in the process, the court noted that certain allocations were made not only in the absence of the recommendation of the state government but even in the absence of the administrative machinery.

Expressing concern over the decision making process, the court asked Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati "you must file a comprehensive affidavit on the allocation of all coal blocks along with the supporting documents".

The court's direction seeking details justifying the allocation of 164 coal blocks came after Vahanvati told the court that 132 coal blocks were allocated by the screening committee and 72 under government dispensation. He told the court that allocation of 40 coal blocks had been cancelled since then.

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