The case relating to the allocation of a coal block in Orissa to Hindalco in 2005 appears to have taken an intriguing turn with a Special Court asking the CBI Tuesday whether it had “examined” the “then Minister of Coal” during its investigation. The man in charge of the coal ministry at that time was former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
While seeking certain clarifications on the closure report sought by the CBI in the case relating to Talabira II coal block, Special Judge Bharat Parashar asked the agency’s Investigating Officer (IO), “Before pronouncing any order on the closure report, I want to ask if you have examined the then Minister of Coal in connection with this case.”
When the agency’s counsel replied in the negative, the Special Judge asked, “In the light of the investigation, don’t you think examination of the then Coal Minister was necessary? Don’t you feel the need to examine him? Don’t you think his statement was necessary to bring out a clear picture in the probe?”
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However, the IO, K L Moses, said, during questioning, that although the agency initially found it necessary to examine Singh, it later concluded that it was “not required”.
The Special Judge then sought the names of the PMO officials who were examined in the case and the manner in which it was done. The then Principal Secretary T K A Nair and the the Joint Secretary Javed Usmani in connection with the case, Moses replied.
Directing the agency to elaborate, the court asked, “Did you send a questionnaire or did you examine the PMO officials in person?” The IO replied, “I did meet them in person but the examination was done in form of questionnaire.”
The Special Judge finally asked the agency to submit the case diary file and the related crime file on November 27. “I am of the considered opinion that for a better comprehension of all the facts and circumstances of the present matter it will be appropriate that case diary file and the crime file be both summoned for perusal of the court in sealed cover,” the Special Judge said.
The case relates to the closure report filed by the agency in an FIR that was lodged by the CBI against K M Birla, ex-Coal Secretary P C Parakh and others relating to alleged irregularities in the allocation of the coal block to Hindalco.
In the previous hearing, the CBI had contradicted its own closure report and told the court that there was “prima facie enough material” to proceed against private individuals and some government officials in the case.