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SC coal bench to decide Manmohan Singh plea

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NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi:  The cases whether the allocation of 15 per cent of Talabira II Coal Block to Hindalco by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was beyond the case covered under the coal block allocation scam would be decided by the coal bench of the Supreme Court, said the apex court on Wednesday.

A bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu said that the matter will be listed before the coal bench of Justice Madan B Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice AK Sikri.

“The matter would be listed before the coal bench, you persuade then that it did not fall within the category of the coal scam cases,”Chief Justice Dattu told senior counsel Kapil Sibal as he sought hearing of the matter next week.

However, when senior counsel Harish Salve appearing for industrialist Kumarmangalam Birla and Hindalco told the court that these were batch matters and sought their hearing post-Diwali holidays, the chief justice asked both Salve and Sibal to decide the date among themselves and the matter will be heard accordingly.

Manmohan Singh and Birla have moved the apex court for quashing criminal proceedings against them for alleged wrongdoing in the allocation of the Talabira-II coal block in Odisha to Hindalco in 2005.

The apex court on April 1 had stayed the summons issued on March 11 against Manmohan Singh and Birla by the special court holding trial of coal scam cases. It had also stayed further proceedings in the matter.

The apex court, on April 1, had also stayed the summons to former coal secretary PC Parakh, D Bhattacharya and Hindalco.

Birla has challenged the constitutional validity of section 13(1)(d)(iii) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The special court had summoned Manmohan Singh, Birla and others after it rejected two closure reports by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Bofors: CBI to look into Michael Hershman’s Allegations

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Bofors scam
Haubits FH77 howitzer, of the type around which the Bofors scandal centered. Wikipedia

New Delhi, October 18: The CBI on Wednesday said it will look into the facts and circumstances mentioned in an interview of Michael Hershman, the first secret Bofors investigator of the Fairfax Group deployed by the Indian government.

“The agency has learnt of the matter pertaining to Bofors aired on a certain TV Channel containing interview of Michael Hershman. Facts and circumstances as mentioned in the interview will be looked into as per the due process by the CBI,” CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said in a statement.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) move comes a day after Republic TV’s interview with Hershman, wherein he made several revelations regarding Bofors and named some powerful politicians in India linked with the deal signed between the then Rajiv Gandhi-led government and Swedish company Bofors in 1986.

The deal for 410 howitzers was completed in March 1986.

The alleged corruption in the Bofors guns deal had created a scandal in 1989, leading to the fall of Rajiv Gandhi government. Kickbacks were alleged, but no evidence was found.

In 1986, the then Finance Minister V.P. Singh ordered an investigation. To do so, Singh got in touch with private investigation group Fairfax.

Hershman, who first found the Bofors papers, was the secret investigator of the Fairfax Group, deployed by the Indian government.

Now, a six-member Public Accounts Committee’s sub-committee on defense, headed by Biju Janata Dal MP Bhartruhari Mahtab, is looking into non-compliance of certain aspects of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report of 1986 on the deal. (IANS)

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