CBI examines Kumar Mangalam Birla in Coal case
New Delhi: CBI has examined Aditya Birla group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla in connection with alleged irregularities in the allocation of Talabira-II coal block to his company Hindalco in 2005.
The CBI’s questioning of Birla, named as an accused in the FIR, came after a special court raised questions over the closure report filed by the agency which has not been accepted.
Birla was said to have been examined over his meetings with the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was also holding charge of coal portfolio, and the then Coal Secretary P C Parakh, another accused in the case.
When contacted, Birla group declined to comment on the development except to say that he was examined before filing of closure report.
CBI Joint Director (Policy), who is in-charge of media relations, R S Bhatti did not answer phone calls and sms in this regard.
Meanwhile, the agency has also questioned former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Principal Secretary TKA Nair and private secretary BVR Subramanyam in connection with the case.
The action came on the directions of the Special Court which had expressed its dissatisfaction over the examination of Nair and also directed the agency to record the statement of Singh, then Coal Minister.
According to the sources, Nair who was earlier examined by the agency through a questionnaire has now been questioned in the wake of special court’s December 16 order in which the judge had noted that it would be “appropriate” if the CBI re-examines him.
The sources said Subramanyam, who was not examined earlier by CBI, has now been questioned as the court had said that some of the PMO officials, who were concerned with coal block allocation process relating to Hindalco, were “either not examined or were not properly examined” by the agency.
Singh was also examined by CBI in the case in pursuance of the court order.
The sources said Singh was asked whether he was personally involved in the decision to allocate coal block to Hindalco and whether he had personally seen the file. He was also asked about the reasons behind changing the decision.
The agency is scheduled to file a progress report of its ongoing probe into the case before the court on January 27.
CBI had received a wrap on its knuckles as Special Judge Bharat Parashar had refused to accept the closure report in the case observing that it would be “appropriate” that the then Coal Minister (Singh) be “first examined” regarding various aspects of the matter.
CBI had earlier lodged an FIR against Birla, Parakh, M/s Hindalco Industries Ltd and other unknown persons and officials for the offence under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.