This Article is From Aug 28, 2012

Subodh Kant Sahai's clarification on BJP's allegation on coal block allocations

Subodh Kant Sahai's clarification on BJP's allegation on coal block allocations
The BJP has furnished letters which it says establish that the Prime Minister allowed valuable coal fields to be allocated without any form of transparency. BJP leader Prakash Javadekar says that in 2008, union minister Subodh Kant Sahai wrote to the Prime Minister about a company named SKS Ipsat Power that had applied for two coal fields in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The BJP says that as soon as Mr Sahai's letter was received, the Prime Minister's Office wrote to the Coal Ministry asking for "appropriate action" to be taken. The party alleges that the coal fields were allotted just a day later to SKS.

A few months after SKS Power was granted the coal fields it had sought, it was taken to court by a rival company, which alleged that Mr Sahai's brother, Sudhir Kant Sahai, was on the board of SKS, and had represented the company before a screening committee in charge of deciding who would get coal blocks. But in May this year, the Delhi High Court found no merit in the case against Mr Sahai.

Mr Sahai has issued a clarification on the issue. Here's the full text of the clarification:

In the order passed by Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in W.P. C No. 7135 of 2008, Hon'ble Court is of the view that there is no basis for the case of malafides

In Para No. 53 of the judgement / Order  the contentions made by PIL have mentioned as the basis for the claim of malafides is that according to PIL, respondent No. 4 has been promoted by the family of proposed Respondent No.5 (Subodh Kant Sahai) who is a Minister of State in the Union  Cabinet and that Respondent No. 5 went out of his way to get a decision in favour of respondent No.4 in which his brother the proposed respondent No. 6 (Sudhir Kumar Sahai) was a Director.

In Para No. 54 of the Judgement order the Hon'ble court stated that after examining the records and considering the submissions of the learned  Senior Counsel for the petitioner, this court is of the view that PIL has proceeded on a wholly erroneous premise.  It is clear that the initials 'SKS' in the name of Respondent No. 4 do not stand for Subodh Kant Sahai.  With respondent No.4 itself explaining the history of its formation, this allegation can only be turn a product of the fanciful imagination of PIL.  Further, not a scrap of paper has been produced by PIL to prove its claim that respondent No.4 was promoted by the family of respondent No.5.  This has turned out to be a preposterous claim made on affidavit by PIL without any sensible responsibility.

The words of para No. 55 are reproduced here in under :

The other plank of the plea of malafides is the letter dated  5th February 2008 written by the Respondent No. 5 to the Prime Minister, the complete text of which reads as under:-

Respected Dr. Sahab,

I would like to bring to your kind notice that M/s SKS Ispat and Power Ltd. have applied for two coal blocks for their steel plants in the state of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.  A brief note in this regard is enclosed.

I shall be grateful for your personal intervention in this matter.

Yours Sincerely

Sd/-

(Subodh Kant Sahai)

(emphasis supplied)

In para 56 of the judgement, the court expressed its view that it does not take much to realize that the above letter has nothing to do with the allocation of coal blocks for a power project.  It specifically mentions allocation of coal blocks for steel plants to Respondent No.4.  Therefore, nothing also turns on the subsequent letter dated 6th February 2008 written by the PMO to the Coal Ministry.  The decision to make the allocation to PIL and respondent No.4 jointly was made at the 35th meeting of the screening committee on 13th Sept. 2007 long before the above letter dated 5th February 2008.

In para of No. 57 Hon'ble court stated that the presence of proposed Respondent No.6 at the meeting of the  36th Screening Committee held on 7th February 2008 is made much of by PIL.  But that meeting was not about making allocations to the power sector at all.  The Minutes of the said meeting show that it was concerned with  allocations to the non-power sectors.  It could not have influenced the decision to allocate coal blocks jointly to PIL and respondent No.4, which decision in any event was already taken at the previous meeting of the Screening Committee held on 13th September 2007.

Further in Para No. 58 the Hon'ble court is of the view  that the above  facts show that PIL has set itself on a hopeless task of trying to join completely unconnected events to bring about a story of malafides.  Not willing to accept that it has nothing to show for its allegations PIL has desperately persisted with this misconceived line even in its written submissions.  PIL has needlessly dragged Respondent No. 5 and 6 into this litigation knowing fully well that it would be unable to substantiate its case against them.

In para No. 59, Hon'ble Court stated what is also a matter for concern is that PIL has managed to have an interim order in its favour for over 18 months on the basis of averments which it has been unable to prove.  The inescapable conclusion is that this petition is nothing but an abuse of the process of law. This case has consumed several extended hearing days thus resulting in wastage of valuable time of the court.

Under the heading of Conclusion in para No. 60 and 61 of the Order/ Judgement the Hon'ble court pronounced its decision which is reproduced as under:

"for the above reasons this Court concludes that the present petition is an instance of a vexatious litigation that has wasted the precious time of the court.  It should be dismissed with exemplary cost".

"Accordingly, the writ petition and pending applications are dismissed with costs of Rs. 2.5 lacs out of which Rs. 50,000/- will be paid by the petitioner to Respondent Nos. 1 and 2 jointly and Rs.50,000/- each to Respondent No.3, 4 and proposed Respondent Nos. 5 and 6 respectively within a period of 4 weeks from today.  The interim order stands vacated."

S. MURLIDHAR,  J

May 18th 2010