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Supreme Court has issued a notice to the centre government over the Jharkhand government’s petition challenging its decision of virtual auction of 41 coal blocks for commercial mining.

While hearing the plea filed by Jharkhand government on Tuesday, a bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices R Subhash Reddy and A S Bopanna has sought centre’s response within four weeks.

The state government has alleged centre of announcing the decision unilaterally without even consulting it.

The SC bench told the Senior counsels Fali S Nariman and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Jharkhand government that it is inclined to issue a notice in the matter and will hear it on injunction by listing it as early as possible.

Then advocate Nariman stated that it would be appropriate if the matter is listed before August 18, as the bids will take place then.

To which CJI SA Bobde replied that it will not be a problem as the date can be extended and Attorney General (AG) will look into the matter.

The top court on July 6, had said that the plea will be heard this week along with the original suit.

An original suit under Article 131 of the Constitution allows a state to approach the Supreme Court in the matters of disputes directly with the centre.

Soon after the plea filed by Jharkhand government against the virtual auction of 41 coal blocks for commercial mining, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-led Hemant Soren government had also filed an original suit separately.

In its petition, the state claimed, “it is highly inappropriate for the Centre to conduct auction at this time of COVID-19 pandemic as all the machinery of the state and the Centre are to be enjoined to “alleviate the problems of citizen” caused due to the deadly virus.” It further added that the suit is filed to assail the unilateral, highhanded, arbitrary and illegal action of the centre to launch the commercial coal mining auction.

“The impugned action impinges the rights of the indigenous people of the plaintiff state and will lead to large scale displacement and consequential rehabilitation and resettlement issues,” stated the plea. In addition, it is also alleged that this action of centre is against the environmental norms and will cause irreparable loss to the environment, land area, and forests in the state.

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