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Manmohan in coal case: Court rejects CBI closure report

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New Delhi: A special court established last year to specifically try cases relating to the allocation of coal blocks has rejected closure reports filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in six of the cases, including one against former prime minister Manmohan Singh.

manmohan singh_3C--621x414--621x414The apex court, on July 18, 2014, set up a 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 on 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 probe further. Among the five cases one was related to a coal block allocation to Hindalco, in which Manmohan Singh was summoned, as were industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and 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 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 Madhu 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.

(IANS)

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PM Modi Slammed for “Destroying” CBI: Congress on Alok Verma’s Case

The Congress on Tuesday slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the Supreme Court reinstated Alok Verma as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director, saying he has been exposed for "destroying" the premier investigating agency.

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narendra modi
Image: IANS

The Congress on Tuesday slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the Supreme Court reinstated Alok Verma as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director, saying he has been exposed for “destroying” the premier investigating agency.

“Modi adds another first to his list. After being the first Prime Minister to be exposed destroying the CBI before the Supreme Court, after having ruined the CVC’s (Central Vigilance Commission) credibility (requiring supervision by former SC judge), Modi has now become first Prime Minister to have his illegal orders set aside by the Supreme Court,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a series of tweets.

His remarks came soon after the Supreme Court judgment pronounced on a plea by Verma and NGO Common Cause challenging the government’s decision on the intervening night of October 23-24 to divest Verma of his charge as head of the investigating agency.

Reminding Modi that the government comes and goes but the integrity of the institutions survive, Surjewala hoped that the judgement would be a “lesson” to the Prime Minister about the strength of country’s democracy and the Constitution.

“Modiji please remember, governments have come and gone. Integrity of our institutions have survived. Let this be a lesson to you about the strength of our democracy and the Constitution. Let this be a lesson that howsoever despotic you may be, law catches up in the end,” he said.

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Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Wikimedia

Firing salvo at Prime Minister, the Congress leader said: “After making CBI Chief suffer the consequences of your illegal decision for three months, will you show the courage to return three months of lost tenure? Unless you are afraid of investigation into Rafale scam.

“Modi equals to ‘Muzzling of Democratic Institutions’. First, you lose four economic advisors in a row including two RBI Governors. Second, four Supreme Court judges go public on Judge (B.H.) Loya, then you destroy credibility and competence of the CBI and CVC. This is your model of ‘minimum governance, maximum government’,” he added.

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Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi questioned the Supreme Court verdict asking what has changed now.

“Before the Supreme Court verdict; Alok Verma didn’t have powers of CBI Chief, couldn’t take any decision on policy or investigation. After Supreme Court verdict: Ditto,” Singhvi tweeted. (IANS)