Several top industrial groups are set to get a reprieve in the coal blocks allotment case with the Central Vigilance Commission likely to back the CBI in its bid to close as many as 22 preliminary enquiries registered against them.
The Supreme Court had on March 29 given the CVC four weeks’ time to examine a bunch of coal blocks allotment cases the investigating agency was inclined to close and it now transpires the files include allotments made to several large industrial houses.
They include Tata Power Company (Tubed block in Jharkhand ); Adani Power Ltd (Lohara West and Extension in Maharashtra); Jindal Photo Ltd (Mandakini block in Orissa); GMR Energy Ltd (Rampia in Orissa); Bhushan Steel and Strips Ltd (Urtan block in Madhya Pradesh); and Ispat Industries Ltd (Behraband North Extension in Madhya Pradesh).
Officials in the two agencies pointed out that what the apex court described as “difference of opinion’’ among CBI officers in these cases was in fact an instance of a junior inquiry officer of the level of superintendent of police taking an “extreme view’’ of wanting to register FIRs against all companies even for a minor misrepresentation of figures or assets.
Senior officers, including director Ranjit Sinha, were not in agreement though.
The CBI has so far registered FIRs only in those instances where it has allegedly found major falsifications, fraud or forgery.
While CBI officials said that the opinion of their junior legal experts was sought before a final recommendation of closure was given in each case, CVC officials said a scrutiny of CBI files has shown a clear pattern of the inquiry officers’ view being countered by senior officers.
The CVC team has held consultations on these cases and has also been given a presentation on the complex process of allotting coal blocks.
Following directions from the apex court, the CBI has handed over copies of the 22 case files containing notings of key officials to the CVC and the corruption watchdog is expected to file its report early next month.
Other companies which are believed to figure on the CBI’s closure list include Rashmi Cements Ltd (Andal East block, West Bengal); Binani Cements Ltd (Nimbri Chandawata Lignite block, Rajasthan); Adhunik Thermal Energy Ltd (Ganeshpur, Jharkhand); and Monnet Ispat & Energy Ltd (Urtan North, Madhya Pradesh).