The Supreme Court, while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking investigation of alleged irregularities in formation of Kalinga Coal Mining (Private) Ltd, a joint venture between Sainik Mining & Allied Services Ltd (SMASL) and Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), rejected the request of the respondents to drop the case.
The counsels appearing for both the state government and SMASL argued that since the JV pact has already been scrapped, there is no need to continue the hearing.
But the court, after hearing the petitioner’s argument decided to continue with the hearing.
“The court was apprised that SMASL itself has filed two cases at Odisha High Court in connection with the JV. Hence considering the seriousness of the matter, the court rejected their demand,” said Purna Chandra Sahu, who has filed the PIL.
“The court has also directed the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) to submit its status report regarding the case within one month,” he added.
The apex court in October 2012 had admitted the PIL on contentious joint venture pact between the state-owned resource company OMC and SMASL for raising of coal from a block allotted to the former.
In the PIL, the petitioner had demanded cancellation of the coal block and a probe by CBI into the joint venture agreement, where OMC has conceded controlling 74 per cent stake to SMASL. The formation of the JV, named as Kalinga Coal Mining (Private) Ltd, was in blatant violation of Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act-1973, the petitioner argued.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in November, informed the apex court that it has already initiated probe into the contentious joint venture pact.
OMC has, meanwhile, scrapped the deal after facing a barrage of criticism for allowing controlling stake to the latter. The Union coal ministry also de-allocated the Utkal D coal block given to OMC.
SMASL has filed two cases at Odisha High Court, challenging the decision of the state government to cancel the JV pact and the Centre’s decision to de-allocate coal block citing financial losses.