The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Court heat on CIL brass

Ranchi/Dhanbad, Sept. 27: Alleged tardy functioning of the marketing department of Coal India Limited (CIL) has led to a Supreme Court order asking the company’s chairman and other senior officials to be present in court on or before October 30.

The order was issued on September 19 in response to contempt petitions filed by eight coal consumers, such as Somal Pipes Pvt Ltd and Ashoka Smokeless.

The company and its subsidiaries failed to refund deposits to coal consumers, along with 12 per cent interest, as directed by the apex court, in response to Civil Appeal 5302 of 2006. This prompted those affected to file contempt petitions.

While hearing the petitions, the Supreme Court observed: “We are not satisfied with the explanation furnished by the contemners (CIL and its officials).”

The court exempted the Union coal secretary from personal appearance, but not the CIL top brass.

The order is the fallout of the manner in which e-auction of coal was implemented and handled, industry sources said.

According to the company’s policy, only such coal as left after allotment to regular and old government consumers like iron and steel plants or thermal plants, in the priority and non-priority sectors, was to be offered for e-auction. But the marketing wing of CIL made heavy bookings, so much so that many consumers could not get their allotments. CIL had to refund the deposits, which added up to a large amount.

In doing so, the company kept back the security deposits, which compelled some consumers to move court. The court had ordered this amount to be refunded to consumers with 12 per cent interest. As the company did not refund the deposited amounts, with interest, the consumers moved court moved again, which then ordered for personal appearance of the CIL top brass, including the chairman.

Coal industry sources said the embarrassment could have been avoided had the marketing department, comprising senior officials, acted promptly and infor- med the chairman and the legal department, of the developments.

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