'PM should voluntarily depose before CBI'

'PM should voluntarily depose before CBI'

The BJP on Wednesday demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should “volunteer” to depose before the CBI in the coal block allocation case.

The party also sought the Centre to lodge an FIR on the “theft” of files on the coal block allocations, contending that it was no longer a case of “missing files”. The BJP found support in all other opposition parties, as well as UPA allies Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party.

The opposition sought a time-bound probe into the issue. The BJP said it was displeased with the absence of the prime minister and Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal from the House while the matter was being raised.

“It is no more a case of files that went missing. It is now a case of theft. That is why an FIR should immediately be lodged. The government should tell us by when an FIR will be lodged,” Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj demanded.  If no FIR was lodged, it will imply that the government did not want to recover the files, she added.

Swaraj said the coal block allocations case was “the most important” among alleged irregularities like the 2G and Commonwealth Games cases, because the Manmohan Singh was in charge of the Coal Ministry when the allocations were made. Referring to a media report, Swaraj said “a key CBI official” had claimed that the probe into the coal block allocations case could never reach a conclusive end unless the prime minister was examined. “The prime minister is coming under cloud. If he wants to come clean, he should come forward and volunteer to depose before the CBI,” she said. Later, in a joint statement, senior BJP leaders Arun Jaitley and Swaraj suggested that the prime minister’s deposition before the CBI was significant because the investigation agency now had to rely on the oral evidence which will include statements of witnesses and examination of persons who were “likely to be in the know of relevant facts.”

 The CBI now had no other option than relying on oral evidence in the case because of “disappearance” of a large number of documents relating to coal block allocations during 2006-09, when Manmohan Singh was in charge of the ministry. These documents could have been used as documentary evidence, they added.  The CBI SP K R Chaurasia’s suggestion for questioning of the prime minister in the case, however, did not find favour from the higher ups in the CBI, they rued.

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