SC Imposes Rs 1 Lakh Costs on Union Govt. for Incorrectly Mentioning Company as ‘Coalgate’ Among List of Illegal Allottees

Debangana Ray

Published on August 18, 2022 at 17:23 IST

The Supreme Court imposes costs of ₹1 lakh on the Centre for its “callous, careless and casual approach” which resulted in the cancellation of a coal mining lease that was granted in favour of a company, BLA Industries Private Limited.

The bench comprising of CJI NV Ramana, Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Hima Kohli held that BLA Industries had followed the correct procedure and had approached the State with an application seeking a mining lease, which was granted under the Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (MMDR Act).

The mining lease granted in favour of the petitioner was not mala fide, unlike the other allottees.

The Central government, however, did not take the necessary measures so as to determine whether the lawful procedure had been followed in the allocation of the mine, the Court said.

Therefore, it incorrectly included the name of the petitioner in a list of 46 coal blocks submitted before the top court in the Coalgate case.

The Coalgate case considered a prayer regarding the quashing of the allocation of coal blocks to private companies made by the Central government between 1993 and 2011.

The petitioner cannot be compared with the other allottees of the coal blocks since the petitioner has followed the correct procedure of applying for a grant of a mining lease, the Supreme Court said.

The Court further observed that the private party followed all the rules and the law, as applicable, before investing large sums of money to undertake business, and it was the central government that did not follow the law.

“To compound the petitioner’s woes, respondent no. 1 filed an affidavit before this court including the petitioner in the list of errant mine owners, based on its own unlawful conduct.”

“It did not undertake the necessary due diligence to determine as to whether the petitioner had been allotted the mine through the lawful procedure,” the Court stated.

The Court, therefore, allowed the petition and held that the central government is not entitled to claim payment of an additional levy for the coal extracted by the petitioner.

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