Coal Case: Court rejects CBI Closure Report against Manmohan Singh
A special court established last year to specifically try the cases relating to the allocation of coal blocks has rejected closure reports filed by the CBI in six of cases, including one against former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The apex court had on July 18, 2014 set up a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court to try, on a day-to-day basis, cases arising from the allocation of coal blocks.
The CBI, which filed its first charge sheet in the matter on March 10, 2014, had filed investigation reports in 15 cases. Of these, the agency filed charge-sheets in nine cases and closure reports in six cases.
The court was not satisfied with the CBI’s closure reports in five of the cases, and asked the agency to conduct a further probe.
Among the five cases was one related to a coal block allocation to Hindalco, in which Mr Manmohan Singh was summoned, as were industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, former coal secretary P.C. Parakh, among others. The case related to allocation of the Talabira II coal block in Odisha to Hindalco in 2005. This order was passed on March 11, 2015.
On April 1, the Supreme Court stayed the summons against Mr Manmohan Singh. On the court’s orders, the CBI followed up on probe in the five cases. Of the five, the court took cognizance of four cases, including Hindalco.
Additional Sessions Judge Bharat Parashar issued summons to various top leaders, government officials as well as corporate honchos, named in the cases. Among the cases is one related to allocation of the Moira and Madhujore (north and south) coal blocks in West Bengal to Kolkata-based Vikash Metal and Power Limited (VMPL). The case is still being probed.
The sixth closure report was regarding coal block allocation involving Prakash Industries Ltd. The court is yet to take cognizance in the case. Of the charge sheets filed in in nine cases, the CBI named various top government officials, including former minister of state for coal Dasari Narayan Rao, former coal secretary H.C. Gupta, former parliamentarian and industrialist Naveen Jindal, former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda and Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda.
Judge Parashar was not satisfied with three of the charge sheets and observed that the probe agency has not conducted proper probe in finding out alleged collusion between public servants and company officials.
The court therefore ordered further probe in the three cases after taking cognisance of the charge sheets. The three cases relate to allocation of coal blocks in Rampia and Dip Side of Rampia in Odisha to Navbharat Power Pvt Ltd, Maharashtra’s Bander coal block allocation to AMR Iron and Steel Private Ltd, and Lohara (east) coal block in Maharashtra to Grace Industries Ltd.
Later, based on the report of further investigation, the court issued summons to former coal ministry officials K.S. Kropha and K.C. Samria and the companies mentioned and their heads.
In one of the matters, charge sheet was filed related to allocation of coal blocks to Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd. in Jharkhand’s Rajhara town. The special court on September 4 last year returned the charge sheet filed by the CBI after the agency failed to respond adequately to the queries raised by the judge.
Later, in December 2014, the CBI filed a fresh charge sheet naming Mr Koda and others as accused.
The CBI till April 1 this year has registered 40 first information reports in its ongoing probe into the coal block allocation cases. The Supreme Court on September 24, 2014 cancelled 214 coal blocks allocated from 1993 to 2011.
Senior counsel R.S. Cheema is the special public prosecutor. Special judge Parashar began his daily proceedings on August 25 last year after all cases related to coal matter were transferred to his court.