3:13 pm - Thursday December 16, 2145

Coal scam : ‘Yes, something had gone wrong,’ government admits in Supreme Court

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New Delhi –  The Centre today accepted for the first time that “something has gone wrong” in the allocation of coal blocks, at a hearing in the Supreme Court on “Coal-Gate.”

“Yes. I accept something had gone wrong.  We take decisions in good faith but somehow it goes wrong,” Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati told the court. “I take the point. Everything could have done in a better way. But in 1991-1992, the power situation was different.”

Mr Vahanvati argued that at the time, the critical need was to increase power generation. “What we did was in national interest. Ideally we should have formed a national policy. Something better could have been evolved in national interest,” he said.

The government’s top lawyer said this after the top court commented, “Your intentions are right. But the exercise made and the manner it was done something was wrong. The whole thing could have been done in a better manner but it is for the executive to do.”

The BJP immediately resumed its attack on the Prime Minister. “Dr Manmohan Singh, will you permit yourself to be questioned by the CBI? They talk of fighting against corruption…we would like to ask Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi if they will allow CBI to question the PM,” said senior BJP leader Ravi Shanker Prasad.

The Coal-Gate controversy has seen the opposition repeatedly targeting the Prime Minister, who was in charge of the coal ministry for some of the years under scrutiny in Coal-Gate. (read: PM uses silence as weapon)

The CBI alleges that for several years the government gave away mining licences arbitrarily, without a transparent bidding process, at the cost of thousands of crores to the country.

The Centre today promised to inform the court next week about its stand on the cancellation of licences that were not above board.

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