Coalgate: PMO declines to share info citing CBI probe

New Delhi: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has declined to part with information related to coal blocks allocation citing ongoing CBI probe in the matter.

“Keeping in view the ongoing CBI investigation in the matter, disclosure of information may be withheld for the present, in terms of Section 8 (1)(h) of the RTI Act,” the PMO said in reply to an RTI query.

The Section bars disclosure of information which would impede the process of investigation or prosecution of offenders.

Exercising his Right to Information, advocate Vivek Garg has sought information on minutes of all meetings between Union Coal Minister and Prime Minister, copies of decisions, approvals, orders and letters or correspondences between the Coal Ministry and PMO related to coal blocks allocation.

Garg has also filed an RTI application seeking details on the coal blocks allocation to Ministry of Coal information on which was denied by it saying the information sought was not available in the “compiled form”.

The Coal Ministry said information regarding details of coal blocks allocated and various acts and guidelines are already available in public domain.

“Further, most of the files or records relating to allocation of coal or lignite blocks are in the custody of CBI, New Delhi. The information sought is not available in the compiled form and it would divert the resources of the public authority very disproportionately to provide the information,” the Ministry said in its reply.

The CBI is probing alleged irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks. It has so far filed seven FIRs against private companies and unknown public officials for alleged misrepresentation of facts and registered three preliminary inquiries.

The CVC had in May referred the case of alleged irregularities in the utilisation of coal blocks allocated to private companies between 2006 and 2009 to CBI for further probe.

The case was recommended after receiving complaints from BJP leaders Prakash Javadekar and Hansraj Ahir, who alleged that first-come-first-serve basis was adopted by the government to benefit some private companies.

The CBI is also looking into alleged irregularities in the allocation of coal mines post-1993 during the NDA regime.