What court found amiss

What court found amiss

The special CBI court, which named Manmohan Singh as an accused in a coal scam case, has pulled up the prime minister for merely affixing his signature on clearing a coal block allocation for Hindalco without deliberating on the need to relax guidelines.

Special CBI judge Bharat Parashar also felt that Singh cannot take recourse on the argument that he did not have time to look into the minute details of each and every case placed before him as prime minister.

“Undoubtedly, from the very nature of office held by him, the prime minister of a country cannot personally look into the minute details of each and every case placed before him and has to depend upon his advisors and other officers.

However, in the present case, Dr Manmohan Singh chose to keep the coal portfolio with him and thus prima facie he can not claim that being prime minister he could not be expected to personally look into the minute details of each and every case,” the judge said.

At the same time, the court also described the statement to the CBI by B V R Subramanyam, the then Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, “as relevant to refer to”. The court recorded that Subramanyam noted that Singh would go through what the secretary, the minister of state and the officers below in the PMO had written in the file. He further stated that Singh “was a thorough and diligent person”.

The court said Singh’s approval was in violation of the established procedure and already approved guidelines and it resulted in defeating the efforts of Neyveli Lignite to establish a 2,000 MW Power Plant in Odisha.

“His action thus prima facie resulted in loss to NLC which was a PSU and facilitated windfall profits to a private company i.e. M/s Hindalco,” it said.

The court said further compromising the status of Talabira-III coal block, besides allocating excess amount of coal to Hindalco again prima facie crops up as an incriminating circumstance against Singh.

It noted that Singh allowed the reopening of the matter pertaining to the allocation of Talabira II even though he himself had permitted the approval of the minutes of 25th Screening Committee recommending its allocation to NLC.

“The repeated reminders from the PMO, written as well as telephonic, to the Ministry of Coal to expeditiously process the matter in view of the letters received from Kumar Mangalam Birla also prima facie indicate the extra undue interest shown by the PMO in the matter,” the court said.

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