The apex court bench of justice RM Lodha and justice Anil R Dave issued the notice on a joint PIL by NGO Common Cause and other eminent people, including former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian, former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami and others.
Seeking an SIT probe, counsel Prashant Bhushan appearing for the Common Cause and other petitioners contended that the CBI was most unsuited to undertake the probe as people involved in the coal scam were either ministers, or their kith and kin and all influential people.
He said that the CBI was focusing on the misrepresentation by a few companies which were not eligible for allocation of coal blocks, and the agency was not concentrating in irregularities committed in the allocation process itself.
Attorney General GE Vahanvati told the court that the central government will file two separate replies - one dealing with an earlier petition by advocate petitioner ML Sharma and the other by the Common Cause.
The court tagged the Common Cause petition with the one filed by ML Sharma and fixed the next hearing for Jan 24, 2013.