Coalgate: Court tells CBI to further grill Manmohan Singh, others

16 Dec 2014


A special CBI court in Delhi today ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to record the statements of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who held charge of the coal ministry in 2005, and others in the coal block misallocation case.

The CBI was told to further investigate the coal scam in which the investigation agency has charged former coal secretary P C Parakh and industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla.

The court has directed the CBI to file a status report of its investigations case on 27 January.

A first information report was lodged against Birla, Parakh and others relating to the allocation of Talabira II and III coal blocks in Odissa in 2005 to Birla's aluminium company Hindalco. CBI had later filed a closure report in the case.

During a hearing on 25 November, the CBI had come in for some tough questioning from the court, which had asked why the agency did not question former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who held the coal portfolio between 2005 and 2009.

Refusing to accept CBI's closure report filed in the matter, Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar said, ''I have ordered further investigation. I desire that statements of the then minister of coal [Manmohan Singh] be recorded besides other officials.''

On 12 December, the court had reserved its order on the CBI's closure report filed in the matter for today.

The FIR against Birla, Parakh and others was registered in October last year by the CBI, which had alleged that Parakh had first rejected a coal block allocation to Hindalco but had reversed his decision within months ''without any valid basis or change in circumstances'' and thereby shown ''undue favour'' to the company.

The CBI had booked Birla, Parakh and other Hindalco officials under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including criminal conspiracy and criminal misconduct on part of government officials.

The Supreme Court-appointed special public prosecutor R S Cheema for CBI had submitted before the judge that the court can take cognisance of the offences mentioned in the closure report as there was prima facie ''evidence against the accused to show their involvement''.

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