Coal block allocation scam: SC appoints two judges to try pending cases


The Supreme Court on Monday appointed two judicial officers, Arun Bhardwaj and Sanjay Bansal, as special judges to try the coal block allocation scam cases pending since 2014.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde examined names of five judicial officers, which were selected by the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court. The top court said it assumes that all the judges on the list are good. The bench, also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, instead of appointing one judge to replace special judge Bharat Parashar, nominated two judicial officers to try 41 pending coal scam cases, following suggestions from special public prosecutor R.S. Cheema.

The top court had received a letter from the registrar general of Delhi High Court seeking its permission to nominate/post another suitable officer as special judge in place of Parashar. The letter cited the coal block allocation matter is pending for about six years when the law contemplates the disposal of such matters in two years which may be extended up to 4 times by periods of six months each.

Today, Cheema submitted that there are 41 pending cases, therefore two courts could be constituted to try the cases. After a brief hearing in the matter, the top court agreed to appoint Bhardwaj and Bansal as special judges to try the coal scam cases.

On March 15, the top court had asked the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court to suggest five judges of high calibre to replace Parashar. “We accordingly request the Hon’ble Chief Justice, Delhi High Court to give us a panel of names of about five judges of a high calibre and absolute integrity to enable us to suggest an appropriate replacement for Bharat Parashar, Special Judge. Stand over for two weeks”, said the top court.

The top court in its order said, “We find that Bharat Parashar who has acted as a Special Judge (PC Act), (CBI)-07, Patiala House Court, New Delhi, needs to be replaced, as he has now completed more than 6 years in the same post after having been posted as Special Judge in the above-mentioned court since August 19, 2014.”

The top court had appointed senior advocate R.S. Cheema, as special public prosecutor to conduct the prosecution of the offences pertaining to coal block allocation matters on behalf of CBI and ED. In 2014, the top court had quashed 214 coal block allocations that Centre had allocated between 1993 and 2010.

The top court had termed these allocations arbitrary, illegal and amounting to unfair distribution of national wealth. The decision had on a plea led by NGO Common Cause and others challenging the legality of allocation of coal blocks to private companies from 1993 onwards.