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No cartelisation in auction of 2 Chhattisgarh mines: Delhi HC

Delhi high court

New Delhi: Delhi High Court today termed as “unfair” the government’s decision to annul the bids of a private firm for two coal blocks in Chhattisgarh and held that there was no evidence of cartelisation in their auction.

Jindal Power Ltd (JPL) had placed the winning bid for these two mines – Gare Palma IV/2 and IV/3, but the government had annulled its tender later.

The court also decided to make Coal India Limited (CIL) the custodian of these two coal mines as an interim measure.

“There is no evidence, absolutely no evidence of  cartelisation. The auction was held fair and square,” a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva said.

The observation came after the bench perused the report of the nominated authority, a joint secretary level official looking into the tender and auction process.

The court observed that “nominated authority is a fair person, but decisions the government is taking are unfair”.

After hearing the arguments of stakeholders, the bench as an interim measure decided to make Coal India Ltd (CIL) the custodian of the two mines and said any and every action taken in connection with the matter would be subject to final order of the court.

“CIL while functioning as such custodian shall utilise the requisite infrastructure and manpower of the petitioner (JPL) to ensure continuity in coal mining and production operations.

“All coal produced from April 1, 2015, shall belong to CIL and it can dispose of the same in any manner it deems fit,” the court said.

The bench said that the interim order shall not create any equities in anyone’s favour at a later stage.

Earlier, the High court had said the government’s decision to cancel the bid of JPL for the two Chhattisgarh mines by annulling the tender process and alloting them to CIL was “prima facie wrong”.

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