It is yet to summon Congress MP Naveen Jindal for interrogation

Even as various government departments are frantically searching for 200-odd missing Coalgate files, the CBI probe has been tardy with the investigating agency yet to interrogate Congress MP Naveen Jindal, even almost two months after searches were conducted on his premises and those of other officials.

The CBI raided the premises of Mr. Jindal on June 11 after lodging an FIR against him and the former Minister of State for Coal, Dasari Narayan Rao, who has been interrogated. However, the search of Mr. Jindal’s premises was completed only after his return from abroad and since then the CBI has been sitting on the case and is yet to summon him for interrogation, sending out mixed signals on the Coalgate probe.

The CBI is yet to question officials of State governments and the former heads of the Screening Committee and its other members for various acts of omission and commission in the perpetuating the scam.

“The CBI had, a few months ago, submitted before the Supreme Court that it would have to question officials from various Ministries, including Coal, Steel, Power and DIPP [Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion] and also the former and present officials in State and Central governments, including those in the Screening Committee. But there has been hardly any progress on that front. It is yet to summon former senior Coal Ministry officials, who presided over the Screening Committee meetings. It has been quick to point the finger at the former Secretary, H.C. Gupta, and interrogate him, someone who is known to be an officer of high integrity. It speaks volumes about the direction of the probe,” a senior official said.

In case of Mr. Jindal, he has been named in the FIR along with Mr. Rao for alleged cheating and graft. According to the FIR, Jindal Steel Power Limited (JSPL) and Gagan Sponge Iron Ltd., also a firm belonging to Mr. Jindal, had bagged the Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in Jharkhand in 2008 by alleged misrepresentation of facts when Mr. Rao was the Minister. Within a year, a block was allocated to JSPL in January 2008.

The CBI has alleged that the shares of Mr. Rao’s firm, Saubhagya Media, listed at Rs. 28 that time were purchased by one of Mr. Jindal’s firms — New Delhi Exim Ltd — at Rs. 100 a share with a total investment of nearly Rs. 2.25 crore, which is alleged to be illegal gratification. The CBI has also booked companies like JSPL, Gagan Sponge Iron Ltd, Jindal Realty and New Delhi Exim and Saubhagya Media.

Coal Secretary S.K. Srivastava has issued directions to various sections handling coal block allocations to locate the files or reconstruct them as soon as possible.

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