Coalgate: CBI likely to include PM in FIR

SC was moved seeking direction to the CBI to add the name of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the 14th CBI FIR in Coalgate.

The Supreme Court was moved Thursday seeking direction to the CBI to add the name of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the FIR naming industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and then coal secretary P.C. Parakh in the allocation of coal blocks in Odisha for Hindalco.

In his petition, advocate M.L. Sharma contended that the Odisha coal blocks could not have been issued to Hindalco in 2005 without the approval of Manmohan Singh who then was holding the charge of the coal ministry.

Sharma has also sought direction to the CBI to included the names of those ministers who had “recommended, considered and allotted coal blocks to the parties concerned” in an irregular way as they attracted the provision of Prevention of Corruption Act.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in its FIR said Parakh while allocating the Odisha coal blocks to Hindalco, part of the Aditya Birla Group, had reversed the decision of the screening committee to allocate Odisha coal blocks to public sector company Neyveli Lignite.

The probe agency has cited the meeting between Birla and Parakh in July 2005 and a letter written by the industrialist in May 2005 as a basis for allocating the coal blocks to Hindalco which the screening committee, headed by Parakh, had earlier allocated to Neyveli Lignite.

The apex court is hearing a PIL by Sharma seeking the cancellation of coal blocks that were allocated to different concerns in an irregular manner in breach of the rules and procedures. The next hearing is Oct 29.

Yesterday, Parakh had come heavily down on the prime minister saying that if he was a conspirator, so was PM Manmohan Singh.

“I don’t know why the CBI thinks Birla and I are in a conspiracy, but the person who took a decision is not a part of (the) conspiracy. If a conspiracy is there, everyone is part of the conspiracy. If we are accused, PM is as much a part of the conspiracy,” Parekh had told TimesNow.

The complications of the case have increase multifold. Not only India Inc. is unhappy over the naming of Birla, it is also unhappy over the way the government is messing up with the case to save PM.

The intervention and interest of PMO in CBI’s work is another matter which raises eyebrows. Why is it doing so if it has “nothing to hide” as stated by Prime Minister himself in the parliament?

The fact that the Prime Minister held the coal ministry portfolio at that time makes him prima facie answerable to the coal ministry’s actions at the time of allocation of blocks. How has he been evading the whole mess is a master stroke played by him and his office.

As R Jagannathan in his article puts it, the mundane truth is simple: if anyone is guilty of irresponsibility and breach of public trust in the coal block misallocations, it is the Prime Minister and his office.

But we have only seen people sing praises over his integrity and honesty.

-with inputs from IANS

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