Parakh failed to explain reasons for reversing decision

Last Updated 18 October 2013, 12:29 IST

Former Coal Secretary P C Parakh has failed to explain the reasons for alloting coal block to Hindalco after rejecting it earlier, CBI claimed today amid indications that the agency will register fresh cases soon in connection with Coalgate.

The agency, which is probing the entire gamut of coal block allocation from 1993 onwards, is expected to register more cases before October 29 when it would be submitting its status report before the Supreme Court.

After registering 14 FIRs, the CBI is still probing three preliminary enquiries--for allocation of coal blocks between 1993-2004, 2006-09 and awarding of contracts for formation of joint ventures by government companies under the 'Government Dispensation Category' from 1993 onwards.

Highly placed sources in the agency said that Parakh was examined before registering a case against Hindalco during which he was asked about the reasons for reversing the decision to reject the company's application.

The sources claimed that Parakh could not explain under what circumstances he changed his own "considered" view and allowed Hindalco to get a pie in Talabira II and III coal blocks in Odisha which were allocated to PSUs--Mahanadi Coalfields and Neyveli Lignite and hence his name was included in the FIR.

Parakh has held that there was nothing wrong with the decision as Hindalco was the first applicant and equally competent to get the coal block.

The former bureaucrat, who has been praised by the CAG as whistleblower, had, however, contended that "... if there is a conspiracy, then there are different members in this conspiracy. There is K M Birla who made the representation, he is one conspirator. I, who examined the case and made a recommendation, I can be another conspirator and the Prime Minister, who as the Coal Minister, took the final decision is the third conspirator."

CBI has alleged in its FIR that after rejection of Hindalco's plea in 2005, Birla wrote two letters and held a personal meeting with Parakh, after which the decision was reversed.
They said FIR has named Parakh and Aditya Birla group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla because it was a case of alleged misuse of official position.

The sources said if no malafide is found during the probe, the case would be closed and Supreme Court would be informed about it.

CBI's move against Birla has come under criticism from India Inc which warned that such actions hamper business sentiments and investors' confidence in the country.
CBI Director Ranjit Sinha had said the case was being monitored by the Supreme Court. "We are providing all the details to the apex court in our status report to be filed later this month," he had said.

The agency has contended that "undue favours" shown to Hindalco had resulted in loss to the exchequer.

Birla's name has been mentioned as a representative of Aditya Birla Group in the FIR. Hindalco is one of the group companies of the conglomerate.

Parakh, who was Coal Secretary at the time of this allocation, faces charges of criminal misconduct under the Prevention of Corruption Act as also criminal conspiracy.

This is the first FIR from the preliminary enquiry into allocation of coal blocks and awarding of contracts for formation of joint ventures by government companies under the Government Dispensation Category from 1993 onwards, the sources said.

(Published 18 October 2013, 12:28 IST)

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