The Supreme Court on Monday asked the CBI “to take appropriate action as per the law” after the agency proposed to file a preliminary enquiry (PE) for investigating a “diary” and cash recovered from the offices of the Aditya Birla Group.
The “diary” allegedly contained a list of an estimated 1,000 payments purportedly made to politicians and MPs of several parties by a Birla group company trust over a 10-year period. Besides, Rs 25 crore was also recovered from the company’s corporate office in 2013.
As CBI proposed to register a PE into the matter, a bench led by Justice Madan B Lokur said that the probe agency should proceed in accordance with the law laid down by the top court regarding registration of cases where cognisable offences are disclosed.
“We are not commenting on whether these documents are disclosing any offence or not, it is for the CBI to take action. It is entirely for the CBI to decide if offences are made out, which may be unrelated to coal block allocation scam. We expect the CBI to act on the basis of information discovered and to take appropriate action in accordance with the law,” the bench, also comprising Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice A K Sikri, said.
Sources said the agency had recommended a PE against the company to specifically look into alleged payments of around Rs 7 crore made under the heading ‘Project-J- Environment & Forest’. The CBI reportedly came across more than a dozen entries under this head, showing purported payments made to various people.
Seeking a probe into the recovery of the diary and cash, the plea filed by NGO ‘Common Cause’ contended that during Jayanthi Natarajan’s tenure as environment minister, nearly 13 projects of Aditya Birla Group companies were cleared between 2011 and 2013.
The NGO’s counsel Prashant Bhushan argued that the payments were perhaps made to procure speedy clearances during the UPA regime when Natarajan was the minister.