SC dismisses plea against Coal India disinvestment

New Delhi, Aug 5 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday dismissed a petition seeking quashing of 10 percent disinvestment of Coal India Limited in 2010, saying it would not invoke its power of judicial review unless the disinvestment policy was non-transparent.

Petitioner Ehsan Khalid said during the disinvestment the non-disclosure of the company's actual coal reserves of about 120 billion tonnes caused a loss of Rs.1.7 lakh crore to the exchequer.

Dismissing the plea, the apex court bench headed by Justice R.M. Lodha said: "In matters of policies, particularly economic policies, this court does not interfere by invoking its power of judicial review unless the impugned policy is found to be grossly unfair, unreasonable and arbitrary."

"In view of what we have said, we are satisfied that no case is made out for our interference," the court said dismissing the public interest litigation.

At the time of disinvestment, it was stated that CIL's reserves stood at 64 billion tonnes which was subsequently revised to 120 billion tonnes, the petitioner contended.

Appearing for the government, Additional Solicitor General Siddharth Luthra told the court that the disinvestment of CIL's 10 percent holding in 2010 was "transparent, fair and reasonable".

Khalid told the court "private investors are enjoying the benefit of over 12 billion tonnes of coal vested with CIL, on payment of only Rs.12 per tonne".

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