Coal scam: Manmohan Singh, KM Birla summoned as accused

New Delhi/Bhubaneswar: Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, ex-coal secretary P.C. Parakh and three others were today summoned as accused by a special court in a coal scam case pertaining to allocation of Talabira-II coal block in Odisha in 2005 and asked to appear before it on April 8.

Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar summoned the six accused on April 8 for the alleged offences punishable under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent) of the IPC and under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).

Besides these three, the court also summoned M/s Hindalco, its officials Shubhendu Amitabh and D Bhattacharya as accused in the case.

If convicted, the accused are liable to be sentenced for a maximum of life imprisonment.

The case pertains to allocation of Talabira II coal block in Odisha to M/s Hindalco in 2005, when the then Prime Minister Singh was holding the coal portfolio.

CBI, in its FIR, had named Parakh, Birla, M/s Hindalco Industries Ltd and other unknown persons for alleged offences under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under provisions of the PCA.
In his reaction, the former prime minister said, “I am open to legal scrutiny; am sure truth will prevail.”

Meanwhile, reacting to the development, Odisha’s senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra said, “Against whom evidences are available can be called for questioning, no complaints about that. Action should be taken against anybody who is involved in corruption.”

He added, however, it is sad to say that probably the CBI has forgotten about Odisha’s CM.

“When the former PM had said that he took the decision on the basis of the recommendations from Odisha CM, is it not logical on the part of the CBI to call the chief minister for questioning,” Mishra added.
BJP State president KV Singhdeo said, “Whoever is involved in the scam, be it ex-PM or CM, no one can escape. I know the former PM had said the decision was taken after the CM’s recommendations. Only time will tell when the CM will be summoned.”

Talking about the party’s stand BJD spokesperson Amar Prasad Satpathy said, “The CBI probe into coal block allocation scam is being monitored by the SC. The ex-PM was summoned as his coal was under his review during his regime. The court’s decision to summon him is quite logical from that point of view.”

Further, he added recommendation and taking a final decision were different things.

“Persons who have taken the decision after the scrutiny will be responsible,” Satpathy added.