SC rejects plea to name PM in Hindalco case

SC rejects plea to name PM in Hindalco case

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea to direct the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to name Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the FIR filed against Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and former Coal Secretary P C Parakh in a coal block allocation case.

A three-judge bench, presided over by Justice R M Lodha, did not find any merit in the application filed by advocate M L Sharma, who had first filed the public interest litigation in the matter. “The probe is still going on, and it is for the CBI officials to look into it. We are still hearing the matter,” said the bench.

Sharma filed the application as well as an affidavit asking the court to order the CBI to include the prime minister’s name in the latest FIR, in view of the Prime Minister's Office describing the coal block allocations to Aditya Birla Group firm Hindalco as “appropriate”.

The advocate-petitioner urged the court to direct the prime minister to file at least an affidavit in the matter, since he was in direct charge of the Coal Ministry in 2005.
Earlier, in his affidavit he had contended that the prime minister's statements should be considered as extra-judicial confession.

“There have been more than 150 coal block allocations. So, will he be able to explain all of them,” observed the bench, also comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, while dismissing the application.

Meanwhile, the Centre opposed the CBI’s plea to grant its director a secretary-level status. Senior advocate Amarendra Sharan, representing the CBI, submitted that every government wants to keep a stranglehold on the probe agency. “All political parties in the country want to have some control over the CBI. The entire effort is to keep their control and keep it in a stranglehold,” he said.

“It seems it is one issue where all political parties are ad idem (in agreement),” remarked the bench. The court directed the Centre to file an affidavit in this regard. 

During the proceedings, the court also modified its previous orders and allowed the CBI’s two in-house prosecutors and senior advocate Sharan to participate in preparation of the status report.

The court posted the matter for further hearing for November 26. It would also consider the appointment of an amicus curiae in view of the voluminous status reports being filed in the matter.

The court allowed a plea made by the CBI to expand its investigation team by one more officer. The bench also directed the agency to submit a report on the status of investigation, as on December 31, by January 15 next year.

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