Coal scam: Special court asks CBI `why was Manmohan Singh not examined?`

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Nov 25: A special court on Tuesday asked the country’s premier investigating agency as to why it did not examine former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was then holding coal portfolio, during its probe in the coal blocks allocation scam case involving top industrialist KM Birla, former coal secretary P C Parakh and others.

According to reports, while questioning the probe agency neither the judge nor the CBI referred to him by name in their exchange.

Special CBI judge Bharat Parashar reportedly asked the agency, “Don’t you think examination of the then coal minister was necessary in the matter? Don’t you feel the need to examine him? Don’t you think his statement was necessary to present a clear picture?”

Responding to this, the investigating officer (IO) told the court that the officials of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) were examined during the probe and it was found that statement of the then coal minister was not necessary.

He, however, clarified that the then coal minister was not permitted to be examined.

It may be noted that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was holding the portfolio of coal ministry when Birla’s firm Hindalco was allocated coal blocks in Orissa’s Talabira II & III in 2005.

The CBI’s investigating officer (IO) said: “PMO officials were examined. The then minister of coal was not examined in light of the statement of PMO officials.”

The IO added: “the then coal minister was not permitted to be examined. It was found that his statement was not necessary”.

Earlier in August, the Supreme Court cancelled nearly 200 coal block allocations. The government is expected to auction those coal fields.

The special court on Monday warned Devendra Darda, one of the accused in a coalscam case involving his father and Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda, to be careful in future for his failure to furnish an undertaking before leaving the country.

The court was informed that due to some administrative mistake in Devendra’s lawyer office, the initial undertaking could not be filed before it and the delay in filing of the same may be condoned.

(With Agency Inputs)

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