Former Coal Secretary H C Gupta, an accused in a coal block allocation case, said Wednesday that it was former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, then coal minister, who took the “ultimate decision” of allocating the coal block.
The submissions were made by Gupta, during arguments on the framing of charges in a case pertaining to alleged irregularities in the allocation of Jharkhand’s Rajhara North coal block.
Arguing that Singh was the “competent authority” in the allocation of the coal block, Gupta said the secretary of a ministry was only an advisor to the minister-in-charge and it was the minister who took the final decision. “The ultimate power to allocate coal blocks was with then PM (Singh), who was also Coal Minister at that time,” Gupta’s counsel told Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar.
Gupta argued that as a chairman of the screening committee, he was empowered to only “recommend” allocation of blocks and that he sent the recommendation to the then “Coal Minister who after exercising all his wisdom and discretion, decided to allocate (the) coal block to an applicant firm”. “Secretary of Coal Ministry does not have dominion over coal. Union of India was having part dominion (over it). The Coal Minister was having the dominion over the coal blocks,” Gupta’s counsel argued. The court has fixed the case for May 29 when CBI’s prosecutor will rebut the arguments of the accused.
Earlier, former minister Dasari Narayan Rao had also said the decision on final allocation “was taken by the Minister of Coal who was the then Prime Minister”. Rao is an accused in another case relating to allocation of coal block to Congress leader Naveen Jindal-owned firm.