Judges Arun Bharadwaj and Sanjay Bansal, both district and sessions judges heading special CBI courts, will now hear over 40 cases relating to the coal scam.

The Supreme Court Monday appointed two special judges to conduct the trial in the coal scam cases, replacing judge Bharat Parashar who has been hearing the cases since 2014.

Judges Arun Bharadwaj and Sanjay Bansal, both district and sessions judges heading special CBI courts, will now hear over 40 cases relating to the coal scam.

Senior Advocate R S Cheema, the special prosecutor in the case appointed by the Supreme Court, had suggested that it would be appropriate to appoint two Special Courts for disposal of all cases related to the coal scam. The court also noted in the order that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta agreed to the proposal.

Cheema also asked the court to relieve him from the post of the public prosecutor in money laundering cases relating to coal scam. However, the SC has not decided on his plea.

The decision to relieve judge Parashar was taken after the Delhi High Court had written to the Supreme Court, stating that the judge had been in the same post for a long period of time and had to be replaced. While special courts for a particular case are contemplated for two years initially, with extensions if required, judge Parashar’s tenure had exceeded six years.

In September 2014, the apex court had declared over 200 coal blocks allocated by the Centre between 1993 and 2010 as illegal as it arbitrarily and unfairly distributed national wealth. The court also had ordered a separate probe into the allocations, which it has been overseeing since then.

Judge Parashar was appointed by Delhi’s then Lt Gov Najeeb Jung in August 2014 to exclusively try cases related to the coal scam after the Supreme Court’s intervention in the case. The judge had earlier been a joint registrar in the Delhi High Court.

The judge, in a rare decision in 2015, had summoned former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to depose before him as an accused in a case pertaining to grant of the Talabira-II coal block in Odisha in 2005 to the Aditya Birla group company Hindalco. The Supreme Court had subsequently stayed that decision.

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