CBI now says enough evidence in coal scam

Probe agency tells court it can proceed against Kumaramangalam Birla, Parakh

CBI now says enough evidence in coal scam

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday said there is “prima facie enough material” to proceed against some private parties and public servants in the coal scam.

This is a complete turnaround from its stand in the coal scam case involving business tycoon Kumaramangalam Birla and former coal secretary P C Parakh, following a court rebuke two months ago.

Supreme Court-appointed Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) R S Cheema informed a special CBI court that it could take cognisance of the “revised” closure report filed by it on October 21 as there was prima facie “evidence against the accused to show their involvement”.

Cheema said from the facts and circumstances, there is enough material to take cognisance of various offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code against private parties and some public servants.

Following his submissions, Special Judge Bharat Parashar posted the matter for hearing on November 25. The court had rebuked the probe agency in September for its “hurry” in closing the case involving Birla and Parakh, following which it filed a “detailed and comprehensive” closure report last month.

Cheema, along with CBI prosecutors V K Sharma and A P Singh, requested the court to take cognisance of the fresh closure report as there was evidence against the accused.

The judge asked the prosecutor whether the CBI would be ready with the documents in case the court decided to take cognisance of offences mentioned in the report. Cheema said some more investigation was required while “rest everything” was ready.

The CBI had on October 15 last year registered a case alleging that Birla and others entered into a criminal conspiracy for allocating the Talabira II and Talabira III coal blocks. The registration of the case elicited angry reactions from the corporate world and bureaucrats.

The agency had alleged that Neyveli Lignite Limited (NLL) was to be given the Talabira II block, but Parakh allegedly favoured Hindalco and allowed it to share the block with NLL.

This had them even drag the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) under Manmohan Singh into the case after Parakh pointed out that he was following orders from the then prime minister, who was also in charge of the Coal Ministry.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had also officially approached the PMO seeking allocation for Hindalco.

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