Defending former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the coal block case involving allocation of the Amarkonda Murgadangal block to Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and Gagan Sponge Iron Pvt Ltd (GSIPL) — the Naveen Jindal firms are accused in the case — the CBI told the Special Court Monday that there is “no prima facie evidence” against Singh to summon him as an accused.
Opposing former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda’s plea to summon Singh, who was also the then Minister of Coal, the CBI said “Singh did not tinker with any process of the screening committee” which “suggests that he was part of any conspiracy” in the allocation of coal block to the accused firms.
Special Public Prosecutor R S Cheema told Special Judge Bharat Parashar that the probe agency has “carried out a complete and comprehensive investigation into the case” and that “it has not found any complicity on the part of Singh with any of accused persons in any manner”.
Calling Koda’s application to summon Singh as “devoid of any merit”, the CBI said that decisions taken by Singh “were not mechanical” and was done using “application of mind”.
“The agency has carried out a comprehensive and complete investigation. The court has also critically examined the matter before summoning the accused persons… The decisions approved by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Coal Ministry and that finally approved by the Coal Minister (Singh) was not done in a mechanical fashion. It was in fact done with application of mind. The prima facie evidence does not show any complicity on part of Singh. There is no evidence to summon him as an accused,” Cheema said.
The CBI said Koda’s allegation that Singh insisted on “routing all the files” to Minster of State (MoS) Dasari Narayan Rao “is factually incorrect”. It said “referring the notings” to MoS Coal has been done in other allocations and there is “no illegality” over this aspect.
The CBI also rejected Koda’s contention that because Singh took the final decisions of allocation of coal blocks, he should be summoned as an accused. “This argument that just because he took final decisions as Coal Minister and, hence, should be summoned is fallacious argument,” Cheema said.
After hearing the arguments, the court reserved its order on Koda’s plea for October 16.
The case pertains to alleged irregularities in the allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block to Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and Gagan Sponge Iron Pvt Ltd (GSIPL). Koda wanted Singh and two others — Anand Swaroop, then Secretary (Energy), and Jai Shankar Tiwari, then Secretary (Mines and Geology) — summoned as additional accused.