Under fire from the Opposition, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said the UPA government had nothing to hide about the coal block allocations. He promised that all documents required for investigation will be handed over to the CBI within the time frame set by the Supreme Court.
The prime minister said the government will provide the CBI with every document “within two weeks.”
“In its August 29 order, the apex court said within five days the CBI will provide a comprehensive list of documents and records which remain outstanding and thereafter, within two weeks, the government will hand over available papers to the CBI,” Singh said. “The government shall follow these directions in letter and spirit and shall do its very best to locate and hand over requisite papers to the CBI within the time frame stipulated by the apex court.”
The prime minister’s statement, however, failed to satisfy the opposition parties. They sought more clarifications from Singh. After they were denied the opportunity by the Chairs in both Houses, the members created a ruckus, leading to repeated adjournments.
Singh asked the MPs to refrain from drawing “hasty conclusions.” “If the government is unable to locate some of these papers within the stipulated time, then as directed by the Supreme Court, a report will be filed with the CBI for appropriate inquiry and investigation,” he said.
The BJP came down heavily on Singh. The principal opposition party cornered the government in both Houses, demanding a discussion on the missing coal files.
“Government revenue is compromised. Even though the Supreme Court was monitoring, files disappeared under the court’s nose. If there is no evidence, no crime can be proved. Has the government registered a case and investigating the missing files?” asked Arun Jaitley, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. “What steps the government is taking to see if the documents reappear? Who in the government will take moral responsibility?”
In the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj referred to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath’s August 20 statement, where he assured the House of the prime minister’s intervention during discussion on the missing files.
“After his (Nath’s) assurance, we sat quietly and allowed the House to run. You have seen how the House sat till late at night to pass the Food Security Bill and the Land Acquisition Bill,” she said.
“But we have come to know that the prime minister will leave on Wednesday for a foreign visit to attend the G20 summit. So, we only have today to fulfill the assurance that was given to the House,” she said.
Swaraj said the Lok Sabha should have a discussion on the issue on Tuesday. The prime minister must intervene before leaving for St Petersburg, she demanded.
In response, Singh said more than 1.5 lakh pages of documentation have already been handed over to the CBI.
“Right from the days the CAG began its exercise of performance audit, the government has always provided its fullest cooperation to the CAG and later to the CBI. We will continue to do so,” he said.