CBI Opposes Koda's Appeal To Involve Ex-PM Singh In Coal Scam

28/09/2015 5:23 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images
NEW DELHI, INDIA - AUGUST 6: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other opposition lawmakers during a protest against the suspension of 25 party members, during the Parliament Monsoon Session at Parliament House on August 6, 2015 in New Delhi, India. The Lok Sabha passed a bill providing for filing of cheque bounce cases at the places where it is presented. (Photo By Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

CBI today opposed in a special court the plea of ex-Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda seeking summoning of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and two others as additional accused in a coal scam case, saying the application was "devoid of any merits".The court, after hearing the submissions, reserved its order on Koda's plea, for October 16. There are several parallel investigations on in the coal scam and Singh is, technically, still under the investigation scanner.

Special Public Prosecutor R S Cheema told the court that the records of the case not even prima facie suggest that the then PM, who was also Coal Minister at that time, was part of any conspiracy in allocating coal block to Jindal Group firms.

"The present application is a device worked out by accused person so as to not only delay the present trial but also deviate the court from the case," Cheema told Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar.

He said that a comprehensive and complete probe has been conducted by CBI in the case and they do not find any reason which would lead to summoning of the then PM as accused in the case.

"The records not even prima facie show anything to summon the then Prime Minister as accused in the case. The evidence does not show any complicity on the part of the then Prime Minister in allocation of coal block," Cheema said.

Regarding the two other persons, whom Koda had sought to summon as additional accused in the case, the agency said that these two persons are important prosecution witnesses and there was no evidence to show that they conspired with anyone in the entire process.

The case pertains to alleged irregularities in allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block to Jindal group firms -- Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and Gagan Sponge Iron Pvt Ltd (GSIPL).

Koda, who is one of the 15 accused in the case, had moved an application seeking to summon Manmohan Singh and two others -- Anand Swaroop, then Secretary (Energy), and Jai Shankar Tiwari, then Secretary (Mines and Geology)-- as additional accused in the case.

Earlier, former Minister of State for Coal, Dasari Narayan Rao had supported Koda's plea for summoning of Manmohan Singh while claiming that the office of the then Prime Minister had allocated a coal block to Jindal group after examining and re-examining the matter.

On March 12, 2015 a special CBI court had summoned Dr. Singh, along with five others including Mr. Birla and Mr. Parakh in a case involving the allocation of Odisha's Talabira coal blocks in 2005 to Hindalco, a Birla group company.

The Supreme Court in April, said that Singh needn't appear before the said court in the Talabira coal allocation imbroglio. Singh, through his lawyer Kapil Sibal, expressed concern over the many corruption cases being filed against public servants who have acted in public interest while in office.

Questioning the logic of the summons, Dr. Singh’s petition, at that time, said it was time the Supreme Court issued an “authoritative pronouncement” on the interplay between governmental decisions and criminal prosecution under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 in a liberalised economy. He said a clear line had to be drawn, especially when public servants were being criminally prosecuted for governmental decisions, even though there was no “whiff” of quid pro quo.

On May 30th, however, the CBI defended Singh in a coalgate case saying former coal secretary HC Gupta, an accused in another case involving former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda and others, had concealed facts from Singh.

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