The government today argued in Delhi High Court that steel and power companies cannot claim they were under-compensated for their infrastructure as they should not have made further investments once the Supreme Court cancelled coal block allocations in 2014.
The Coal Ministry contended as per the apex court ruling of 2014, the companies had to hand over the mines on March 31, 2015, and at that time there was no proposal to auction them.
The arguments were made by the ministry before a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva which was hearing pleas by various steel and power companies, including Jindal, GVK Power, Jayaswal Neco, Prakash Industries and Utkal Coal, who have alleged under-compensation by the government for their mining infrastructure and land.
After hearing arguments of both sides, the court reserved its verdict. It directed the government and the companies to give by April 27 written submissions of any further points they want to make on the issue.
The ministry, represented by Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain and central government standing counsel Akshay Makhija, contended that the land on which the mines were located were given for the purpose of mining and cannot be used for any other purpose.
It said if the companies cannot do anything else with the land they cannot go on negotiating its market value to get the best possible price and added that the land is not being taken away for free.
The government also said that since the allocation of coal blocks were cancelled in September 2014, therefore the audited balance sheets of March 31, 2014, were considered to prevent tampering or inflation of the balance sheets.
The companies, represented by senior advocates Kapil Sibal, P Chidambaram and Gopal Subramaniam, in their pleas have claimed the ministry had not taken into account the value of the land whose acquisition they had paid for apart from the rent, while determining the compensation.