After Shamika Ravi, a former member of PM Modi’s Economic Advisory Council, top lawyer Mukul Rohatgi has also blamed the Supreme Court for cancelling coal blocks saying that its decision dealt a serious blow to India’s economy. Former Attorney General Rohatgi on Saturday said that the Supreme Court had ‘lost its way’ while cancelling all allocations of coal blocks, 2G spectrum licences and iron ore mining. Delivering the Prof NR Madhava Menon memorial lecture on the subject of ‘Journey of the Supreme Court from 1950 till now,’ Rohatgi said that the top court had cancelled allocations of coal blocks in it ‘its zeal to protect the environment,’ but the decision dealt a serious blow to the country’s economy.
Rohatgi’s brutal analysis chimed with what a former member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Economic Advisory Council had said last year. Shamika Ravi had blamed former Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s decision to tax businesses retrospectively and the cancellation by the Supreme Court of coal blocks since 1993 for the downturn in the Indian economy.
Rohatgi, who served as the top legal officer for the Centre’s Narendra Modi government between June 2014 and June 2017, was quoted by news agency PTI as saying, “In its zeal to uphold the environment, in its zeal to correct government orders and inactions, the Supreme Court dealt a serious blow to the economy of the nation. One such example is cancelling all allocations of the coal mines across the country.”
Rohatgi, according to PTI, added, “Lakhs and crores of foreign investments, lakhs and crores of equipment, infrastructure and lakhs of jobs were thrown overboard when the court set aside and cancelled all the allocations of coal blocks and coal mines, because the government did not follow the law correctly. It should have seen the economic impact.”
Last year, Shamika Ravi had made similar observations in a series of tweets as she said, “Objective of economic reform is to reduce policy uncertainty in the economy. Private investments in India have been declining since 2012: after Pranab Mukherjee’s retro taxes and then SC cancellation of all coal block allocations since 1993(!)…anyone estimated growth foregone?”
In 2018, Janta Ka Reporter ran a special analysis outlining how the cancellation of coal blocks resulted in the closure of mines rendering lakhs of workers jobless. The trickle-down effect of killing the operational coal mines impacted growth, employment opportunities and investments not only in the coal but also in the power, steel, cement, fertiliser and infrastructure sectors. The slump in all these sectors had also contributed to the rise in NPAs of banks.
Last year, top lawyer Harish Salve had also said that the Supreme Court’s decision to cancel 122 spectrum licences issued to telecom operators in the 2G spectrum case in 2012 triggered the economy to go on a downward trajectory.