The Central Bureau of Investigation is unlikely to initiate any probe against Ajay Sancheti, a close aide of party chief Nitin Gadkari, whose company allegedly got coal blocks in Chhattisgarh by entering into a joint venture with a State-owned firm.

“We cannot probe Ajay Sancheti’s firm (SMS Infrastructure Ltd.), as it was not allotted blocks directly by the Coal Ministry. Coal blocks were allotted to the Chhattisgarh government. Mr. Sancheti’s firm later entered into a joint venture with the Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation for exploring these blocks. Unless the Chhattisgarh government or the State High Court orders an investigation, we cannot initiate a probe,” a senior CBI official said.

To counter the BJP’s charge that the Manmohan Singh government had favoured companies owned by the kin of Congress leaders in coal blocks allocation, the party has been making counter-allegations that Mr. Gadkari’s “close friend” got coal blocks in Chhattisgarh and is demanding a probe into it.

However, the CBI official said they do not have mandate beyond the coal blocks that were allotted directly to private firms, either by the Ministry, or after recommendations from the State governments. “We are just concentrating on the private companies that got coal blocks directly from the Coal Ministry, either by producing fake documents or firms, or through nexus with politicians or bureaucrats. The companies that got coal blocks through an indirect route [by entering into joint ventures with state governments or its firms] can only be investigated if the State government asks for it or if the State’s High Court gives us orders,” the official noted.

Referring to the ongoing investigation, the official said: “So far, the investigation was revolving around five firms. We are now planning to probe at least 10 more firms. We are evaluating all these documents and evidences. From next week onwards, we will start calling those named in the FIRs, and also government officials under whose tenure these blocks were allotted.”

In the FIRs, the CBI has named JLD Yavatmal Energy Limited, JAS Infrastructure Capital Private Limited, AMR Iron and Steel, Navbharat Power Private Limited and Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Limited — along with their 20 directors and unknown government officials.

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