New Delhi: The CBI on Tuesday told a special court probing a coal allocation scam case that it was not permitted to examine ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was in 2005 holding the additional charge of coal portfolio.
Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar asked the agency, “Don’t you think examination of the then coal minister was necessary in the matter? Don’t you feel the need to examine him? Don’t you think his statement was necessary to present a clear picture?” Responding to this, the investigating officer (IO) told the court that officials of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) were examined during the probe in the coal blocks scam case involving top industrialist KM Birla, former coal secretary P C Parakh and it was found that statement of the then coal minister was not necessary. He, however, clarified that the then coal minister was not permitted to be examined.
Former Prime Minister Singh was holding the portfolio of coal ministry when Birla’s firm Hindalco was allocated coal blocks in Orissa’s Talabira II & III in 2005. “PMO officials were examined. The then minister of coal was not examined in light of the statement of PMO officials,” the IO said, adding “the then coal minister was not permitted to be examined. It was found that his statement was not necessary”.
During the hearing, the court directed CBI to file the case diary before it after which the Senior Public Prosecutor V K Sharma said that the agency be allowed to file these documents in a sealed cover. “…I deem it appropriate that let the case diary files and crime files of the present case be summoned and as per the request of Senior PP, let it be produced in the sealed cover,” the judge said and posted the matter for further proceedings on 27 November.
The FIR against Birla, Parakh and others was registered in October last year by CBI which had alleged that Parakh had reversed his decision to reject coal block allocation to Hindalco within months “without any valid basis or change in circumstances” and shown “undue favours”.
The FIR relates to allocation of Talabira II and III coal blocks in Odisha in 2005. CBI had booked Birla, Parakh and other Hindalco officials under various IPC sections, including criminal conspiracy and criminal misconduct on part of government officials.