Constitution, Supreme Court and Regulation of Coal Sector in India
MP Ram Mohan & Shashikant Yadav*
Volume 11 Issue 1 (2018)
The paper maps four decades of coal sector litigation before the Supreme Court of India and draws a narrative on the constitutional contestation and the legal position as it stands today. Coal is one of the most important minerals from an economic perspective, accounting for over sixty percent of India’s energy requirement. The Constitution of India empowers both the Centre and states with legislative powers relating to regulation and control over mines and minerals, including coal. The coal sector has witnessed highly contested and protracted litigation with respect to law-making powers between the Centre and state governments, and this has impacted business and society in many ways. Through a mapping of judicial decisions of Supreme Court, the contested nature of governance of Indian coal sector is detailed in the paper. The Court has consistently maintained a greater responsibility of regulating mines and mineral development on the Union government. However, advocating sustainable use of coal resources, the Court emphasised that the regulatory power vested with Centre and states must have its basis on public interest and coal must be treated as a material resource of the community.