Wednesday 18 May 2022, 02:21 AM
Coal block case: Court summons Manmohan Singh
By IANS | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 3/11/2015 12:00:00 AM
Coal block case: Court summons Manmohan Singh

New Delhi :  A special court here on Wednesday summoned former prime minister Manmohan Singh, industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary P.C. Parakh in a coal block allocation case.

Special Judge Bharat Parashar, after taking cognizance of the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) final report in the case, also summoned officials Shubendu Amitabh and D. Bhattacharya of Birla-owned Hindalco on April 8.

Manmohan Singh, also the then coal minister, despite not being named as an accused by the CBI in the original first information report (FIR), was summoned by the court for the alleged offences under criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and provisions under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

All the six accused have been summoned as accused in a case related to allocation of the Talabira II coal block in Odisha to Hindalco in 2005.

The court summoned them under section 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent) of the Indian Penal Code and under Sections 13(1)(c) and 13(1)(d)(3) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).

Section 13(1)(c) of PCA relates to a public servant dishonestly misappropriating property entrusted to him or allowing any other person to do so. Section 13(1)(d)(3) relates to a public servant obtaining any pecuniary advantage for any person without any public interest.

The court said a "well-planned and well-designed exercise" was initiated to accommodate Hindalco in the Talabira-II coal block by involving various public servants at different levels in the ministry of coal (MoC) and the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

In the process, the recommendation of the 25th Screening Committee was nullified by adopting a procedure contrary to the approved guidelines and rule of law, the court remarked.

"The proposal to accommodate Hindalco in the Talabira-II coal block with a share of 15 percent was approved without amending or relaxing the approved guidelines... by assigning a share of 15 percent instead of 7.5 percent... Hindalco was allowed to dishonestly misappropriate excess amount of coal and the MoC and PMO did so in complete disregard to the public interest involved," the order said.

"Such a well-planned exercise, which, I may also say, was so meticulously carried out, can be prima facie termed only as a criminal conspiracy and the object of the same was only to do an illegal act," the order read.

The court noted that the PMO showed "extra undue interest" in the matter by giving repeated reminders -- written as well as telephonic -- to the MoC to expeditiously process the allotment of the Talabira-II coal block to Hindalco in view of letters received from Birla.

"In the present case, Manmohan Singh chose to keep the coal portfolio with him, and thus prima facie he can not claim that being prime minister, he could not be expected to personally look into the minute details of each and every case," the court said.

"It will be also not wrong if I say that while coming to such a conclusion about prima facie involvement of the then prime minister in the present matter, this court had to act with a heavy conscience and with full realisation, the present order or the observations/conclusions being made here will have over the morale of the country as a whole," the court remarked.

On the role of Birla in the case, the court said he, being the chairman of a leading industrial house of the country, played an "active role by tapping his bureaucratic and political channels" along with Bhattacharya and Amitabh in order to secure allocation of Talabira-II.

The court said the initial acts of criminal conspiracy were engineered by Amitabh and Bhattacharya.

The court on December 16 last year, while refusing to accept the CBI's closure report, had directed the agency to record the former prime minister's statement.

The court, while issuing summons against six people, took cognisance of the final compliance report in the matter, filed on the court's order on February 19.

The CBI had in October 2013 booked Birla, Parakh and others on charges of criminal conspiracy and corruption in the case. It later it filed a closure report, saying the evidence collected during investigations did not substantiate the allegations levelled against the people named in the FIR.

The court, however, had rejected the closure report and observed that a concerted effort was being made to manipulate the entire government machinery so as to protect the interest of Hindalco.

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Coal block case: Court summons Manmohan Singh

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भारत डिफेंस कवच की नई हिन्दी पत्रिका ‘डिफेंस मॉनिटर’ का ताजा अंक ऊपर दर्शाया गया है। इसके पहले दस पन्ने आप मुफ्त देख सकते हैं। पूरी पत्रिका पढ़ने के लिए कुछ राशि का भुगतान करना होता है। पुराने अंक आप पूरी तरह फ्री पढ़ सकते हैं। पत्रिका के अंकों पर क्लिक करें और देखें। -संपादक

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