The CBI has quietly completed the questioning of T K A Nair, a key advisor of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his former principal secretary, in connection with the coal blocks allotment scandal.
Nair is the latest PMO official to be questioned in connection with the alleged irregularities in the allotment of coal blocks.
Members of the special CBI team handling the case told The Indian Express that the responses of the PMO officials more or less matched statements issued by the PMO and the statement of the Prime Minister in Parliament on why coal blocks had not been auctioned, on the missing coal files and on the chronology of events leading to the Talabira coal block being given to Hindalco.
CBI officers said a detailed questionnaire containing about 30 questions was sent to Nair several days ago, and his lengthy replies also received. Nair was principal secretary to the Prime Minister from 2006-2009 when Manmohan Singh was in charge of the coal portfolio. He could not be reached for comment as he was said to be travelling.
The CBI decision to send written queries to Nair instead of questioning him in person is significant given the impression that the Prime Minister himself was not in favour of his key aide being “quizzed” by the investigating agency.
The CBI is now set to convey Nair’s views to the Supreme Court at the next hearing on March 28. The agency is also likely to register two or three more FIRs in the case against private companies before the next hearing.